26 answers

Three Year Old Waking up in Middle of Night with Feet Pain

My three year old son keeps waking up in the middle of the night crying and writhing in pain. He explains that his feet hurt, but that is all he can tell me. He will eventually go back to sleep. Then in the morning he will tell me that they dont hurt anymore. This has been going on for months now. Sometimes he complains about his legs. He had blood work done recently and his sed rate (inflammation) and rheumatiod factor were normal. What could this be? Growing pains? Vitamin deficiency? Are they asleep?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi, S..
I have a 2 year old, and I remember my mom telling me about the similar thing that you son is going through when my brother was about 3. She said he used to wake in the morning with pain on his legs all the time, and when she took him to the doctor, she was told that it was "growing pains". And she said soon, he didn't have anymore pains and my brother grew perfectly normal without any problems, and now he's 33.

I have found some tylenol, I usually give less than needed, and a little massage usually helps my sons cramps when he gets them.. Growing pains is what I have been told they are..

My 4 year old son has had the same problem for about a year now. He occasionally wakes up in the middle of the night complaining of pains in his legs and feet. I usually give him Tylenol and a little massage and then he goes back to sleep. He always wakes up fine in the morning. My nephew has had the same problem also. All I've been told is that they are "growing pains" and it is very common.

More Answers

My nephew went through the same problem and would wake up crying because of the pain in his feet. It is actually a condition however, not sure of the name off-hand. He went to a pediatric ortho dr. and what it comes down to is that he can never be barefoot for long or wear any type of sandals or flip flops. Sneakers with a cushioned soul is what he has to wear. It may not hurt him during the day while barefoot or with a sandal but then come night time, the pain was very bad for him and they would have to massage his feet.

So even during hte day while playing, they try to have him keep his sneakers on, but make sure you buy a good brand that will help him. If you need more info, I can contact my brother but hope this helps in the meantime. Good luck!

A.

My 3 year old does that too. I think it might be that they are asleep. My son sleeps with his feet tucked up under him and its makes them fall asleep. I just rub them until he settles and goes right back to sleep. when I check him and I see that his feet are tucked under I try to get them out from under him. Sometimes it helps.

After reading your post my first thought was that they were falling asleep. Maybe there is a nerve or something that easily gets pinched? I might try seeing a chiropractor. I have only been there once when my son was very young, but it did help. It could also be growing pains, but I've heard of them mostly in the legs and knees. You've got some good advice in the other posts. Some of the solutions are simple, so couldn't hurt to give it a try, like oj before bed.

What are his shoes like. Maybe they aren't supporting his feet enough. Get hima good pair..and try to watch what he does during the day, and even when he sleeps, that could cause this.

Hi S., There is no such thing as "growing pains" as a great doctor once told me. Take your son to a peds orthopedic doctor for an evaluation. When I was a child I too suffered at night with "growing pains". As an adult I found out that I had mis-aligned knees that could have been taken care of most likely without surgery had I been taken to an orthopedic specialist when I was little. Not to mention all the years of pain and now artritis. You know there has to be a problem, you just have to find the right specialist to figure it out. Good luck and best wishes.

I agree with several moms who suggested you look into fluids, vitamin deficiency (calcium, magnesium, potassium), and his shoes. It may be something else too, but I think you should make sure those basis are covered. Would a hot water bottle help if you put it around his areas of pain? People may say it's growing pains, but I don't think they should be so bad he cries and writhes! I feel for you. I wish I were there to help you comfort him. Did you call his doctor, the on-call nurse, when he was having one of these episodes? Just knowing there is a nurse on the other end during these might make both of you feel better.

Hi S.,
My 8-yr old daughter has gone through this for years - since she started walking. It was especially bad when she was a toddler through around age four. The episodes have lessened as she got older, but still occur sporadically. They were not leg cramps and her legs weren't asleep. To make a long story short, we took her to an orthopedic dr. who, after (expensive) xrays, said there was nothing wrong with her bones & she just had growing pains. Then she became very sick shortly after the ortho visit and our ped sent her to a rheumatologist (connective tissue specialist). The rheumatologist explained she has very, very loose joints and relatively (young) weak muscles, so she is experiencing a lot of movement within the joint. He said there's nothing really wrong, it's just how she was made. He told us she may benefit from physical therapy & exercising to strengthen her ankles and feet. He also said that people with this body type often become more achy than others with illnesses and flu viruses and tend to experience joint pain when they are ill. (She was experiencing severe, acute pain in the bridge of her nose during fevers). We were advised to continue using Ibuprofin at night whenever she had leg pain, or even before bedtime if she had an unusally physically active day. (For the nose pain during fevers we have a prescription for Naproxen, with the option to include Tylenol as needed.) And, while the ortho said to wear good shoes for play, the rheumatologist told us going barefoot would provide the most opportunity to strengthened her ankles and feet muscles. (He did recommend good supportive shoes for when she wasn't barefoot.) We decided to conciously increase her physical activity level somewhat and plan to take her ice skating more often (which she enjoys) to help strenghten her ankles. We agreed to she if she continues to experience regular episdoes, we would try physical therapy. We were relieved to know there was nothing serious about her condition. However, it did cost a lot of money to find all this out (not to mention tme) so I hope this information saves you both! Best wishes!

My daughter went through the same thing around that age. I am not sure what is was from either however what worked really well for her was one of those bags with rice in them. You heat it up in the microwave and it acts as a heating pad. That seemed to always comfort her and ease the pain. She would go right back to sleep. We noticed sometimes after a hard day of playing or running she would have these pains. Well, I hope this helps you. Good luck!

Hi, S..
I have a 2 year old, and I remember my mom telling me about the similar thing that you son is going through when my brother was about 3. She said he used to wake in the morning with pain on his legs all the time, and when she took him to the doctor, she was told that it was "growing pains". And she said soon, he didn't have anymore pains and my brother grew perfectly normal without any problems, and now he's 33.

My daughter, also three, wakes up often with pain in her hands. I'm pretty certain they are simply falling asleep - and I've watched how she sleeps, and it's not in any position I would suspect would be cutting off circulation. We just rub them and send her back to bed. Sometimes she's pretty hysterical about it, but I think that she's still mostly asleep. Tylenol doesn't seem to help - but I don't think if would if they were tingling from being asleep. Hopefully you find something that works - I feel your pain!

Hi S.,

Has your son been tested for Vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. With all the sun blocks used, it's next to impossible for the body to produce Vitamin D in the needed amounts. Only 15 minutes of exposure a day without a sun block will allow the body to produce the needed Vitamin D. If his body is deficient, your son will need to have his Vitamin D level regulated and then monitored by a physician to be sure it stays at the optimum level.

My son had foot and leg cramps at night around the same age. I gave him calcium supplements, and he would get relief and fall back to sleep. My niece suffered traumatic foot and leg pain from growth spurts. She grew 12 inches in one year in her early teens. She actually attended school in a rehabilitative hospital for children because some days she was in so much pain that she couldn't walk. She is now over 6 feet tall.

I hope this helps. If all else fails, have your son's feet examined by a pediatrist. There are some ailments of the feet that can cause this type of pain.

Let me know how you make out. Sincerely, M.

My first thought when reading your post is that he's pulling a muscle in his calf or foot. I used to do it all the time and it is extremely painful. For me, walking on my tip toes helps to get rid of it. Stretching his calves, trying to get him to pull his toes toward him or just having him walk around might help. I've read that being dehydrated can cause muscle cramps and it's also important to get enough calcium, magnesium and potassium. You could ask your doctor if the blood work he had done tested for a vitamin deficiency, but I guess if they had checked that they would have told you. I hope he gets relief soon, the poor little guy!

Hey S., My son , who is now 5, has woken up in the middle of the night with leg pain, on and off for a few years now. It hasn't happened as much in the last 7 months or so, maybe he is outgrowing it. He is extremely active and our Dr. told us that this is why it was happening. We started giving him orange juice before bed when it got really bad and also would rub and massage his legs with arnica cream before bed, it seemed to help, but he would still wake up with the pain, but not as often. It is always upsetting to see them in such pain, but it has gotten so much better and he seems none the worse for wear. I hope this helps, Good Luck!

S., This happened to my son until he was about 9. It only happened when he was going to have a growth spurt. I was so worried that he had something wrong too! If the doctor says it is okay after they did a thorough exam, it is probaby growing pains. I can say I feel better knowing someone else experiences this (not that I want you son to have pain but...) b/c I had never heard of it before...

Take care! A.

My son has been experiencing similar pains since he was between 2 and 2 1/2. It never really happens back to back nights. It will happen once in a while. From all I have heard, it is growing pains and it does actually seem to coincide with growth spurts. Typically I massage his feet and or rub his legs until he falls back to sleep. I try not to give Tylenol, but have a couple of times when massaging for 15+ minutes hasn't worked. My son is now 3 1/2 and still gets this from time to time. Best of luck. You may also want to check to make sure he hasn't grown out of his shoes as that may be the reason for the pains.

Hi S.!

It sounds like your son could be experiencing "Charley horses". I, too, get them frequently and it can be excruciating when the cramping first starts. It feels like a pins and needles sensation at first and then I suddenly can't even flex my foot. Then the calf muscles begin spasming and after writhing around my bed in pain for quite a few minutes, they're gone just as fast as they came on! I was having problems with this alot and my physician informed me that they are caused by vigorous exercise, not being hydrated enough or even a lack of potassium. For a quick fix he suggested that I make my way into the bathroom (which isn't as easy as it sounds!) as soon as they start and stand on the cold tile floor. It's a bit difficult trying to stand upright to walk to the bathroom when this is occuring but since your son is only 3, you could carry him in next time (leave the lights off if you don't really want to wake him fully!) and stand him up for a few minutes to see if this might work for him. It sounded like crazy advice when my Dr. suggested it, but it really has worked for me! Make sure that he's drinking plenty of fluids/water daily and even add more bananas to his diet for potassium. Good luck!

My 3 yr. old daughter wakes up occasionally b/c of foot pain too. But it's usually only in one of her feet, which makes me think it's only "falling asleep" and nothing more serious. Plus, it only happens every once in a while. I've also noticed that she stays in the same position for long periods at a time, and I know when I do that at night my foot falls asleep too!!! Just rub it and gently shake it to get the blood circulating again. I find that if I can make her laugh she goes back to sleep much easier! Best wishes for good sleep!!

My 3 yr old daughter often wakes up during the middle of the night with leg cramps. Sometimes it is the top, other times it is the bottom of her leg. I have discussed with ther pediatrician and have been told these are growing pains. I have been told to either have her stand to apply pressure to the leg or foot or excercise that leg if she can't fully wake up and finally if needed, give her motrin or tylenol. Sometimes my daughter says wrapping the area of the cramp with an ace bandage also helps. I hope this helps you.

I have found some tylenol, I usually give less than needed, and a little massage usually helps my sons cramps when he gets them.. Growing pains is what I have been told they are..

Is he wearing shoes all day with good support? If not this may help.
Barbara

My step-son used to get feet and leg pain in the middle of the night. Same tests were done and came out normal. His doctor told his mom they are just cramps and to give him some banana and milk about an hour before bed. It seems to help him. He's 15 now and rarely gets the cramps anymore. Good luck!

Have you considered that it may be cramps (aka charley horse) causing the pain? I get these and it can wake you up out of sleep and last for several minutes. Its extremely painful. Usually lack of hydration or lack of potassium causes it, so try having your son drink lots of water and eat bananas and see if it improves.

It sounds like he could be charlie horses during the night. I used to get them in my calves and in my toes if I stretched a certain way. People always told me it was a potassium deficiency and to eat more bananas.

My 4 year old son has had the same problem for about a year now. He occasionally wakes up in the middle of the night complaining of pains in his legs and feet. I usually give him Tylenol and a little massage and then he goes back to sleep. He always wakes up fine in the morning. My nephew has had the same problem also. All I've been told is that they are "growing pains" and it is very common.

Hi S.,
I have not had this experience, but my son's best friend was doing the same thing. It lasted on-and-off for about a year, but just went away after that. I know they had him checked by the pediatrician to rule out anything else. He always wanted his feet rubbed when he woke up at night like that--and it always seemed to happen at night as well.

Hey S.

My 3 year old son has been doing similarly for several months now also, he complains his knees hurt. I had asked the pediatrician about it and they weren't concerned. I think it must be growing pains, occasionally I give him Motrin for the pain and after some rubbing of the sore knees he usually falls back asleep and is fine in the morning. Occasionally though he does use the complaint for attention. He will say his knees hurt and he needs medicine and as soon as I give it to him he is fine, but other times he is truly in pain. I wish I had a better answer becuase I really don't know what else to think it is, or what else to do about it. My husband though very clearly remembers being the same age and having horrible pain in his legs at night, his father stated that he used to have to massage his calf muscles every night to give my husband relief at that age. I am hoping it's a temporary growth thing though. If you find any other answers please share though becasue I am not sure what route to go with my son since the peds aren't very concerned...

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