Fort Worth, Texas,
05:39 PM

Growing pains

Part of The Doc Smitty's Masters in Parenting series

It’s midnight. You wake up with a tear-streaked face staring at you.

“Mom, my legs hurt.”

It wouldn’t be so concerning except that it’s happening four nights a week, for months. Right?

So, what do you do?

  • Scream (or sweetly say), “Your fine, now get back in bed!” Confidently roll over and go back to sleep.
  • Pull the child up into bed with you and worry till they go to sleep, then scour Google trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
  • Take them back to their room and massage their legs until they are able to go to sleep.

Growing pains…

  • Are not really because of growth but we’re not really sure why they happen.
  • Are located in the legs, sometimes in the arms.
  • Occur at night (bedtime or 1-2 hours into sleep) or with activity.
  • Occur at ages 3-6 years of age and again at 8-12.
  • Are concentrated in the muscle and not the joints.

You should be more worried when there is..

  • Swelling or redness
  • Associated fever
  • A limp
  • Pain is consistent throughout the day

What do you do to treat your child?

  • Reassure them that everything is OK
  • Massage
  • Warmth (heating pad)
  • Ibuprofen if severe pain
About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.