Growing Pains More Than Just Scrapes and Bruises

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) - Being a kid these days isn't easy, but did you know it can actually be painful?

Twenty-five to forty percent of children experience growing pains... Aches and discomfort resulting from the jumping, climbing and running that active children do all day.

Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard takes a look at how to know the difference between growing pains, and something more serious.

Bumps, bruises, and broken bones, many of us still carry the scars of youth.

But growing pains are something different. Something children feel, but you can't see.

"During periods between three to five and between 8 and 12, where they'll just feel pain in their muscles, and it tends to be more on the front of the muscles, in the legs,” says Dr. Lise Christensen from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

Growing pains often strike in the late afternoon or early evening before bed.

But they can also wake a sleeping child.

The intensity of the pain varies from child to child, but most don't experience pain every day.

Children with growing pains generally feel better when they are held, massaged and cuddled.

"Usually just by rubbing, like what they're asking you to do, you can apply heat which would make it feel better, you can give them Tylenol or Motrin,” Dr. Christensen says.

Growing pains always concentrate in the muscles, rather than the joints.

Most children report pain in the front of the thighs, calves or behind the knees.

Whereas joints affected by more serious diseases are swollen, red, tender or warm, the joints of children experiencing growing pains appear normal. "If they have an infection, or anything concerning, usually it hurts when you touch, and they don't want you to touch, or there might be swelling or redness."

Growing pains are what doctors call a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning your doctor will rule out other conditions before he or she diagnoses your child with growing pains.

Usually that will include a thorough history and physical exam, and sometimes blood and x-ray tests.

Growing pains can be especially frustrating, because a child seems completely cured in the morning, and parents sometimes suspect the child faked the pains.

But know that usually isn't the case.

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