How to Stop Growing Pains in Your Leg

The intensity of growing pains varies with each child.
The intensity of growing pains varies with each child. (Image: Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

According to Dr. Bram H. Bernstein, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Southern California, growing pains have nothing to do with growth. They are simply limb pains of childhood, but doctors don't claim to have all of the answers about them. They are real pains that affect the leg muscles and not the joints. They occur in the front of the thighs, in the calves or behind the knees but are not like muscle cramps. Growing pains can be relieved with a few simple remedies. Experiment with several to find one that is the most effective for your child.

Things You'll Need

  • Analgesic medication
  • Heating pad or electric blanket
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket
  • Warm water

Give your child a mild analgesic such as acetaminophen to help temporarily ease the pains. Check the packaging label for the correct dosage according to his height and weight. Consult your doctor before taking other medications. Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug, seems to work well to curb growing pain symptoms but may require a prescription for young children.

Massage the legs gently where the pain is located until the pain decreases or subsides. Try applying heat to the affected areas with a heating pad or electric blanket. The warmth seems to soothe the muscles and relax them. Use these heating aids only when your child is awake and for short periods of time to avoid burns. Keeping the legs warm at night is a good preventive technique. Use extra blankets or let your child sleep in an insulated sleeping bag.

Have your child practice leg-stretching exercises by stretching the toes and foot upward several times and repeating until the spasms decrease. Follow stretching with a warm, soaking bath. Warm water soothes and relaxes the muscles so he can relax and sleep. The sharp, throbbing pains respond well to warm-water treatments.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult your physician to rule out other conditions that mimic growing pains. Sometimes blood tests and a thorough physical examination are required.
  • If fever, swelling of joints or muscles, weight loss or loss of appetite is present along with the pain, contact a physician immediately.

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