Understanding Growing Pains

What Are Growing Pains

What Are Growing Pains


growing pains signs and symptoms

Growing pains can be experienced for months or years, with most kids outgrowing the problem within a few years.

They generally occur at night and are usually described as a throbbing or aching in the legs, most commonly in the calves, front of thighs or behind the knees. But pain can be present in other parts of the body as well.

Growing pains are very common – in fact they affect around 1 in 5 children and are more commonly found in children of primary school age.


What Causes Growing Pains?

The cause of growing pains is still unknown – but we do know that they ARE NOT CAUSED BY GROWING. In most cases of growing pains there appears to be no obvious reason for the pain or discomfort.


Just A Theory

  • Some believe that growing pains may be related to exercise but this is not proven – they tend to be more prevalent after a day of activities such as climbing, jumping or running, and are much more common after a day of sports
  • Some children with growing pains may also get pains in the abdomen, or they may suffer from headaches – These types of pains have been theorized as being stress related, but again there is no proof of this
  • It is suggested that children with growing pains may be more susceptible to pain


Growing Pain Symptoms

  • An aching or burning sensation in the thighs, calves or feet
  • Could have pains in the arms or other parts of the body (less common)
  • Usually happen at night and can be severe enough to wake the child (Also occur during the day but generally at an intensity that will not affect daily activities)
  • The growing pain may be intense at night and be gone in the morning
  • The pain and discomfort may come and go, a child may not suffer pain every day



There is no specific treatment but you may be able to give the child some relief by:

  • massaging the affected areas
  • Using a heat pack on the affected areas

In cases of severe pain you may check with your doctor to see if it’s alright to give an over the counter pain medication.

The most recommended non prescription medications for children are:

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen; both of these medications used as directed are safe and effective.



  • Don’t stop your child doing their normal daily activities – growing pains generally disappear by themselves
  • If you have any worries or concerns see your doctor. It is always a good idea to get a professional opinion and rule out anything serious.