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Growing Pains: Overview

What are growing pains?

“Growing pain” is a term used for harmless muscle pains in kids that have no obvious explanation, other than running or playing hard. They’re commonly thought of as a rite of passage, and they occur in about 10 to 20% of healthy, school-age children.

Growing pains typically hurt in the muscles and not in the bones or joints. The pains are typically not localized, meaning that both legs hurt as opposed to just one leg or a specific site of pain.

Who gets growing pains?

Growing pains generally happen during two periods: in early childhood among 3- to 5-year-olds and later in 8- to 12-year-olds. Growing pains tend to be worse at night, sometimes waking children from sleep.

When should I worry about my kid’s growing pains?

If any of the following are present, it is unlikely that your child has growing pains and you and your doctor should look for other causes:
  • Symptoms of general illness, such as fever or weight loss
  • Pain specific to a single joint
  • Pain worsening with time
  • Pain interfering with usual daytime activities
  • Limping
  • Abnormal joint symptoms, such as restricted motion, redness, swelling, warmth or tenderness in the related area

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