What are growing pains?

What are growing pains?

Contrary to what many people believe, growing pains are not caused by the bones.  


Scientists are still unsure what causes them.  The bones continue to grow at a slow and steady pace – even during a child’s ‘growth spurt’ and cause no pain unless there is an underlying problem.


Growing pains appear to be more prevalent in active children and children with loose, flexible joints. 


They also tend to run in families.  It is usually the muscles of the legs which are most commonly affected – sometimes the arms or feet. 


Children are likely to be affected by growing pains between the ages of 3-5 years and then again at age 8-12 years. 


It is not until the muscles begin to relax at night, while the rest of our body also winds down, that the tired muscles begin to ache. 


Growing pains are not linked to


  • Growth spurts

  • Flat feet

  • Dietary deficiency 


Common Symptoms:


  • Aches and pains in the thigh, calf or behind the knee, usually affecting both legs

  • Aches begin around late afternoon-early evening and become worse over the night

  • Often associated with headaches



Possible Treatments:


  • There is no known cure for growing pains as there is no definitive cause – they are all a part of growing up

  • Avoid high impact sports during this phase

  • Cuddles and reassurance

  • Massage and heat-bags

  • Paracetamol or another gentle pain-relieving medicine


Seek medical advice if someone:


  • Had pains during the daytime or if the pain is still present in the morning

  • Only complains of pain in one arm or leg

  • Complains of severe/debilitating pain

  • Experiences a loss of appetite, fever, rashes or is feeling generally unwell

  • Had redness, swelling, tenderness in the limbs

  • Limps

  • Experiences pain when walking/moving limbs


The above signs and symptoms may indicate an underlying cause such as an infection, arthritis, Vitamin D deficiency or problems with the muscles.