Growing pains

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For other uses, see Growing Pains (disambiguation).
For growing pains in dogs, see panosteitis.
Growing pains
Classification and external resources
ICD-9-CM 781.99

Growing pains are pain symptoms relatively common in children ages 3–12. Typically, they are located in the muscles, rather than the joints, of the leg and less commonly the arm. They are usually felt on both sides, and appear late in the day or at night, waking the child, with pain varying from mild to very severe. Pain is absent by the morning, and there are no objective clinical signs of inflammation. Pain can recur nightly or be absent for days to months. Growing pain is not associated with other serious disease and usually resolves by late childhood, but frequent episodes are capable of having a substantial effect on the life of the child.[1] Growing pains were first described as such in 1823 by a French doctor.[2]


In the absence of limping, loss of mobility, or physical signs, laboratory investigation to exclude other diagnoses is not warranted.[1][3] Restless legs syndrome is sometimes misdiagnosed as growing pains.[3]


Reported prevalences of growing pains have been between 3% and 49% of children.[3] Growing pains are said to typically occur in two periods during a child's life, firstly, between about 3 and 5 years old, then later in 8 to 12 year olds.[4] There are however no published epidemiological studies to support this observation. Individuals can vary markedly in when they experience growing pains.


The causes of growing pains are unknown. They are not associated with growth spurts and some authors suggest that the term 'recurrent limb pain in childhood' be used instead.[3] Theories of causation include faulty posture, vascular perfusion disorder, tiredness, or psychological causes.[3] Some parents are able to associate episodes of pain with physical exercise or mood changes in the child.[1]


Parents and children can be substantially reassured by explaining the benign and self-limiting nature of the pains.[3] There are no substantial studies of the effectiveness of any intervention; however local massage, hot baths, hot water bottles or heating pads, and analgesic drugs such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) are often used.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Uziel Y, Hashkes PJ (2007). "Growing pains in children". Pediatric rheumatology online journal. 5: 5. doi:10.1186/1546-0096-5-5. PMC 1869025Freely accessible. PMID 17550631. 
  2. ^ Evans, Angela M (28 July 2008). "Growing pains: contemporary knowledge and recommended practice". Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. 1 (4). doi:10.1186/1757-1146-1-4. PMC 2553776Freely accessible. PMID 18822152. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Goodyear-Smith F, Arroll B (2006). "Growing pains: Parents and children need reassuring about this self limiting condition of unknown cause". BMJ. 333 (7566): 456–7. doi:10.1136/bmj.38950.463877.80. PMC 1557982Freely accessible. PMID 16946319. 
  4. ^ "Growing pains: information on diagnosis and treatment".