42 answers

2 Yr Old Complaining of Knee Pain – Could It Be More than Growing Pain?

My 2 ½ year old wakes up almost every night crying/complaining of knee pains. This is nothing new – he has had knee pain on a regular basis for probably over a year now. My pediatrician chalked it up to growing pains since he is fine during the day running/jumping/climbing. I am just concerned it might be something more.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Not much you could do but on rare occasions it could be a early onset of arthritis, i was told i had it at age 8 so depending on family history and other factors it is possible.

Please get a second opinion. Two year olds are busy and growing pains may be just the prognisis, but, waking up almost every night sounds too extreme to dismiss just yet. Bringing him to an orthopaedic dr. might help too. Hindsdale Orthopaedics (quite a few locations) are very nice and thorough. You may want to get some blood work done for peace of mind, too. Good luck.

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I AM NOT TRYING TO SCARE YOU! Sorry about the caps but I just want to make sure that is clear. My daughter complained of knee pain (In fact I asked this same ? of the moms when she was about this age) she would wake up screaming. Her legs would hurt some the next day but not enough to interfere with her daily activities. Dr. told us the same thing it's growing pains or she probably ran around to much and her muscles are a little sore etc. This went on for almost year and then she started having chest pains. She would tell me her heart was beeping and when I would put my hand on her chest I could feel it pounding. Long story short and after a lot of testing she was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome. She has been hospitalized several times with heart complications and will be on medication to slow her heart rate most likely for the rest of her life. While I am glad we got the diagnosis I kick myself constantly for not listening to that little voice that kept telling me it was more then growing pains. If you think it might be something more please don't just take the Dr. word for it. No one knows your child better then you do and sometime Dr. get it wrong. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Both of my children had knee pain & growing pains. I took them to see a chiropractor, he said their knee's weren't tracking properly. For 2 months he repeatedly realigned their low back and knees. This treatment was not solving the problem. I took them to see an Orthopedic Surgeon who specialized in sports medicine. The Orthopedist sent my kids to Physical therapy with a sports medicine therapist. They went to physical therapy 3 x a week for 3 weeks. The therapist said "they'd probably never have the problems again." "BUT, if the pain did return, they needed to start the exercises again." The pains never returned. I'm a very lucky Mom!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, K.!

My name is N.. I am a mother of two children, ages 19 years old and 13 years old. I am about to become a step mom to a 7 year old and a 2 year old.

I would highly suggest you see an orthopedic surgeon or at least suggest to your pediatrician to check for JRA. My daughter, who is now 13, started getting pain in her one knee at age 2. She woke up one morning and when I lifted her from her bed and stood her on the floor, she fell over! Long story short, my daughter was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). She had a cyst in her knee as well (not sure how/if that related to the JRA) but the docs never chose to remove it. She was in a full leg to hip cast for a while, trying to fully extend her leg with the arthritis, since she could not fully extend that leg, due to the joint trouble. Then, we started getting cortisone shots in her knee and she began going into remission. Now, at age 13, she still has the JRA, but it is under total control. Many kids outgrow JRA. My daughter is very active in sports, mainly softball, and had been in softball for the past 7 years. The JRA does not hinder her ability in sports at all, thankfully.

About 4 months ago, her JRA flared up pretty badly and our Rheumatoid Specialist suggested we start her on Remicade infusions every 6 weeks. That sounded pretty devastating to me and her father, (and her as well, of course). I had my daughter start drinking MonaVie Active and it has hugely improved her condition, and she has not needed any infusions or other treatments at all. The JRA is in total remission as a result of the MonaVie and we are thrilled!

Also, know that JRA can sometimes also bring along an eye disease (more common in young girls with JRA, than in boys wih JRA) called iridiocyclitis. My daughter has the eye disease, which we found almost immediately after her diagnosis of JRA. The eye disease is the bigger concern for us and her now, and for the rest of her life, she will be taking eyedrops in her eyes two and three times per day! Fortuntaely there has been no loss of sight and she does not need glasses either, so we really have had everything under control over the years.

I tell you all of this, not to alarm you, but to make you aware of other possibilities. Your son's discomfort in his knees, may very well be just growing pains. My son, at around age 4-5 felt that too, and it was just growing pains, but as I said, my daughter was a much different story.

Unfortunately, (in my opinion) too many doctors are real quick to make false diagnosises (I know there is another word for that but I have NO idea what that word is) :)....and I would rather have you be safe and rule out all other possibilities of what his ailment could be.

I hope this helps! :)

If you have questions, feel free to email me directly at ____@____.com.

Enjoy your day!

1 mom found this helpful

I would have her be evaluated by a pediatric chiropractor first. The initial consult is usually free. So worth it!

1 mom found this helpful

I know this is an old post and I'm curious if your child still has these pains and if you found out the cause. My son also had terrible knee pains in his right knee, from 18 months until 2.5. When he was diagnosed with celiac disease and we put him on the gluten free diet....since then, there's been no pain in his joints.

1 mom found this helpful

I would pay attention to how the soles and inside- exterior of his shoes are wearing. If you notice that one portion of the soles are wearing out (especially from one side to the other) or there is a large number of scuffs on the inside- exterior (where his feet face each other). It could be a joint issue. I come from a somewhat tall family and my brother and I both had sever growing pains (especially at night) during our childhoods. However, I was also born with a degenerative hip disease (that caused pain in my knees and ankels) that was not caught until I was in my early 20's and one of the major signs was how I walked and the way my shoes wore. Hope this helps.

Did you ever find out what this is? My daughter gets it when she has had wheat or gluten and I so wonder if that is what is happening. Thanks,
J.

If you're not satisfied with your pediatrician's response, remember to question them and get another opinion. No one doctor is perfect, just like the rest of us.
I would consult with a child orthopedic.

Hi K.!
My son also occasionally suffers from leg or foot pain. When I brought it up with my pediatrician, he suspected growing pains too, but he did ask me to monitor the frequency of the pain as well as whether or not it was one specific leg or varied (always in the right leg or fairly even alternation of pain between the legs). He told me that if he seemed to have pain in only one leg, then we would need to investigate further.

Monitor the frequency, and which leg the pain is in, and if it is always in the right leg, take him to see your pediatrician.

Something to help soothe him, is to rub his legs with hand lotion that you've already warmed up by rubbing in your hands. For some reason the touch and the lotion either calm my guy down, or it is the physical action of the rubbing (with long deep strokes) that helps relieve the cramp/pain.

Good luck!
L.

It's been said that newborns are born without kneecaps. They do in fact have kneecaps, but they don't ossify or harden until they are a few years old. I suppose this is a key part of crawling... it's hurts my knees to crawl on the hard floor but my kids seem to whiz by without a problem or any notice of pain.

Is it possible that his knee caps are now hardening and it's painful for him? hmmm... not sure. could be growing pains too. any time the bones lengthen at a fantastic clip it can cause pain for our little ones. is he going thru a growth spurt? it's possible check your growth chart (i have one on the playroom wall... i pencil in their height on a fairly regular basis - i noticed my son grow almost 3 whole inches between his first birthday and 16 months - WOW!).

When my kids complain of leg pain (daughter #2 had lots of issues with this) i reached for the tylenol. check with yor pediatrician to see if that's ok with her or if she'd like to see him to check it out. my ped. said this was a perfectly acceptable way of handling her aches and it's about all that can be done. I suppose it's possible it could be more - he may have injured it inside... twisted it, stretched it too far... kids can be active and push their bodies too far. if he has limited movement, definitely check it out with the doc. any swelling too... get it looked at.

good luck. i hope your little guy will be ok...

This is not to scare you, just to make sure you cover all bases and don't possibly ignore something more serious. I know a friend whose child complained of thigh pain all the time and the ped said it was growing pains. When she was playing soccer (she's 8 yrs old) she was kicked and her thigh bone shattered, and drs found out she had bone cancer. They would not have known if she hadn't gotten hurt playing soccer--getting that injury helped drs discover her cancer and save her life. Just to be on the safe side I would set up an appt with a pediatric orthopedist(?), its more than likely an injury or muscle pain, but its good to know for sure.

K. - growing pains are classic symptoms of a calcium deficiency - my son complained of them as well and as soon as I gave him a high quality calcium - before bed, they disappeared!!

~ K.

Please get a second opinion. Two year olds are busy and growing pains may be just the prognisis, but, waking up almost every night sounds too extreme to dismiss just yet. Bringing him to an orthopaedic dr. might help too. Hindsdale Orthopaedics (quite a few locations) are very nice and thorough. You may want to get some blood work done for peace of mind, too. Good luck.

Hi K.,
Does he have any swelling? Are his knees hot to touch and tender to touch? This is not normal. You need to have a second opinion. Does he eat good? Do you give him any supplements? email me back and I will give you more advice.
P. RN

mommy's intiution: Then I think you should go seek help from a different doctor I would I have never heard of growing pains in a baby that young go with your gut on this one seek help soon for baby's sake you are his voice right now and you know he's in pain. Do it mommy for him. nana D.

As a child I had knee pain, and as an adult still have joint aches that have no know cause. I have noticed that my body is exceptionally sensitive to barimetric pressure changes. I would be very aware of when your son's pain occurs, to see if there is a pattern to it. You may be able to find a cause or at lest rule out some. I just ended up taking over the counter pain relivers and hot baths to help the pain. I also predict the weather pretty accurately. It could also be an allgery or an activty that is hard on his knees. If you don't trust your doctor get a second opinion. They only think the know everything, you know your son.

I have a seven year old girl who has had knee pain since about 13 months old. I have persisted with the doctors that there was something wrong, even after "normal" bloodwork. As a nurse, I was made to tell a patient that their bloodwork was OK, even though some was out of range. To the doctor, some of the findings were "a little off", but nothing to concern the patient over. After that one incident, I just gave the patient their result compared to the normal lab ranges. It has been proven that the lab values/ranges listed are not correct for everyone. This is just an average range after taking a set number of people's values over a set period of time. Also, when there is an obvious problem or issue, but with "normal" bloodwork, a lot of other tests can be done, that could rule out problems that bloodwork would not be able to reveal. My daughter finally went to a Shriner's Hospital outpt clinic, and saw a Rheumatologist and Orthopedic doctor, who found that although she was not RA + "yet", she had +HLA B27 polyarthritis. Doctor's don't routinely check for this. My daughter's sed rate and platelets were also very elevated. She now has to be followed closely by a Pediatric Rheumatologist for the high risk of developing JRA and other more serious Autoimmune diseases. Don't give up and don't take "everything's fine" for an answer, if your child continues to hurt. It is NOT normal for a child to be woken up at night with pain. This needs to be addressed. My daughter has also "abnormally thickened growth plates" (with no lead problems) and abnormally swollen feet with numbness, which the doctors are stumpted over. Good Luck and God Bless!

Updated

I have a seven year old girl who has had knee pain since about 13 months old. I have persisted with the doctors that there was something wrong, even after "normal" bloodwork. As a nurse, I was made to tell a patient that their bloodwork was OK, even though some was out of range. To the doctor, some of the findings were "a little off", but nothing to concern the patient over. After that one incident, I just gave the patient their result compared to the normal lab ranges. It has been proven that the lab values/ranges listed are not correct for everyone. This is just an average range after taking a set number of people's values over a set period of time. Also, when there is an obvious problem or issue, but with "normal" bloodwork, a lot of other tests can be done, that could rule out problems that bloodwork would not be able to reveal. My daughter finally went to a Shriner's Hospital outpt clinic, and saw a Rheumatologist and Orthopedic doctor, who found that although she was not RA + "yet", she had +HLA B27 polyarthritis. Doctor's don't routinely check for this. My daughter's sed rate and platelets were also very elevated. She now has to be followed closely by a Pediatric Rheumatologist for the high risk of developing JRA and other more serious Autoimmune diseases. Don't give up and don't take "everything's fine" for an answer, if your child continues to hurt. It is NOT normal for a child to be woken up at night with pain. This needs to be addressed. My daughter has also "abnormally thickened growth plates" (with no lead problems) and abnormally swollen feet with numbness, which the doctors are stumpted over. Good Luck and God Bless!

good morning. The next time you see your doctor, (or Call him) and request they do an MRI on his knee. He may have something going on that they can not treat because they don't see it. After almost a year with my daughters knee pain which does not bother her all the time, I had suggested to the doctor to do an MRI.

My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 2 with Juvenile Arthritis. You might want to pursue his knee pain a little more with his Dr. Maybe they can draw some blood or maybe even do an xray to confirm or rule out this diagnoses. Most of the time kids will complain of joint pain in the evening after they have been playing all day. Does his knee get swollen or warm? My daughter is 15 now but at first they did an xray and then bloodwork. We have been seeing Dr Miller at Childrens Memorial ever since in the Immunology department. You do not have to go all the way to Chicago to see a Dr from Childrens, they go to sites in the suburbs now. We go to Tinley Park to see him for our office visits. Otherwise try to give him some childrens Motrin to see if it helps. Good luck!

Actually your all incorrect children do not have growing pains ! Teenagers who experience rapid growth during and before puberty suffer growing pains ! If pain is gradual it needs to be evaluated by a rheumatologist ! If pain is sudden go to the er - get an x ray , can't hurt ! Your toddlers knee pain could be osteomyelitis / septic arthritis ( bone / joint ) infection awful pain and usually accompanied by fever and or rash on face legs feet etc . Also it's a 6 week minimum of Iv antibiotics in hospital . Or worse ! Osgood splatter disease is what's most common in boys w sudden knee pain . especially those active boys my 13 yr old has this . Maybe nothing serious at all however often doctors can't just say hmmm I don't know have you goggled it ? I am so tired of that if you don't know then let's check it out ( together ) be your child's advocate do your research and remember the doctors work for you don't accept an answer you don't agree with be proactive and ask questions .

Get to another doctor! My cousin's grandson had this same problem - they took him to Shriners hospital (thank God for the Shriners) and he's has arthritis (JRA). He's on medication and is relatively pain free. NEVER accept "growing pains" if your child is waking up from the pain. Get to another doctor asap!

My 2 yr. old daughter has the same problem. hers starts in the morning time to sometime in the early lunch hour through out the day. She will hold both of her knees & sometimes crawl instead of walk. She uses a stiff mobility when walking during this onset of discomfert. This has been happening now for around 3-6mos. I give her alot of IBProfen for it and it helps her get thru the day. I suffer from tons of joint pain but have neg. test results for Rhumatoid Arthritis as my mom & grandmother have this chronically so I know I should stay ontop of it. She drinks tons of milk still & eats well & takes a multi vitamin (good brand). Dont' know until her 2-yr. check up next week. Anyone can email me. ____@____.com. thanks.

My 3 year old also complains on a regular basis of this and he is also pretty active! I had this growing up and still do on occassion (probably arthritis at this point for me). A couple of things that I have found to help is tylenol, a heating pad (one that you throw in the microwave is safest) and I massage the leg that is bothering him.

I haven't tried this but have heard putting a bar of soap under the sheet at the end of the bed is also supposed to help. Don't know how this would help but have heard this several times!

K.,

I am going through the same thing with my daughter right now - called the doctor and they said as long as her knees don't look red, irritated, swollen, etc. then yes, it's probably growing pains - they told me to give her a bath, tylenol, whatever, and if it persists after than then they may want to see her.

I also got some pretty great responses to my question when I posted it, you can see them here: http://www.mamapedia.com/questions/6008849281136525313
Good luck!
L.

I actually just read something about this on Webmd. It could just be growing pains but I read also that it could be a loose joint or even arthritis. I guess it is not unusual for kids today to get arthritis... scary. Anyway, if you go to the children's health section on webmd and type in growing pains. Hope this helps

I suggest you talk to your pediatrician about the possiblity of JRA --- a blood test could provide the answers. My daughter was diagnosed at 2 ---- and thankfully through medication is now fine.

K., I see you've gotten many responses. However, I have a different response from those received thus far. My son is 9-y/o and was also struggling with what was believed to be "growing pains" for a couple of months last fall. He is very active, and experiences the pain after activity, when he is resting. One day he was in such excruciating pain he couldn't stand. We took him back to the pediatrician who took x-rays. These showed lesions on both of his tibias (shin bones). Initially, it was believed he had bone cancer or leukemia. We have since gotten bone scans, MRI's, and many blood draws done. He is now being seen by specialists at UW-Madison. He had a bone biopsy done by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in January. All cancers were ruled out. He then started seeing a pediatric rheumatologist. They have tentatively diagnosed him with chronic, recurrent, multifocal, osteomyelitis. His is autoimmune, and not caused by an infection. We are so thankful it is not the worst case scenario. However, this could potentially be life-altering (not life-threatening) for our son. I encourage you to follow your gut and get to the bottom of this. Had we listened to our ped., we would still be treating it as growing pains. CRMO is extremely rare and there is very little known about it. I hope this is not what you are facing, but keep pushing until you get answers you are satisfied with. May God Bless you and your family!

My friend's daughter (she's now 8) has had knee pain since she was about 2. She was diagnosed with Rickets which is essentially a vitamin D deficiency. She now takes a high dosage of vitamin D which seems to help. Just something else to consider.

homeopathy can help growing pains or whatever else might be going on.
our homeopath is in naperville:
www.dupagehomeopathic.com
if you're not near there and want to see someone else, i can email you a link to other practitioners in the area. homeopathy is natural and has no side effects, so it's safe for your youngster to take. i have constitutional remedies for my baby and 3yo son and also give them remedies for colds/flu, etc.

You can try treating it yourself at first with Arnica 30C (from Fruitful Yield, Whole Foods or specialty pharmacist like Martin Ave Pharm). Take it orally 3x/day for a max of 5 days, but stop if it seems to be "all better." Typical brand in most stores is Boiron. If it doesn't work, then you should see the professional homeopathic Dr. You can email me offlist if you have more questions, and/or read Dr. Polich's website.

My real life experience.
From the time I was two and even now that I am 24 I have the "knee pains" I would squirm and need to stretch my legs out (literally kick them out because it had temporary relief) as a young child my doctor also chalked it up as growing pains. My mom and now myself as an adult would rub rubbing alcohol and it would make the pain go away. I have never had any other difficulties as a result of the pain. I ran track, played all kinds of sports, without any issues.... hope this helps.

Not much you could do but on rare occasions it could be a early onset of arthritis, i was told i had it at age 8 so depending on family history and other factors it is possible.

Our son, now five, has had this issue since he was about two, and for a few months it seemed to be almost every night. Our pediatrician had us monitor it, and when it seemed to be predominantly one leg, he did x-ray it to make sure it wasn't cancer. So far, there's been no indication of anything serious and it does happen less frequently. When it's really bad, we sometimes give him Children's Tylenol. It is definitely occurring less. I wonder if perhaps it happens more severely for extremely active children.

Try having him tested for lyme disease. Has he ever had a mosquito bite, tick bite or a flea bite? Now before you get blood drawn for this, you need to make sure it gets to IGENEX lab (a lyme lab). Quest and others like it are considered "junk" labs when it comes to lyme disease. It is possible he has lyme and a co-infection. Your son's symptoms are the same as my friend's. ALSO not all doc know about lyme. try to get one in your area. Perhaps go to lymenet to find one in your area. Lyme disease is the #1 contagious disease in the country.

Honestly I would get a second opinion. When my daughter was 2 1/2 to 3 years old she would complain of her knees hurting her, especially in the evening when she would settle down for the night. She would wabble from side to side when she did walk. I took her to her pediatrician and she was xrayed only to find out she has legg-calve perthesis disease. She was seen by many orthopedic specialists and they did nothing. So I was referred to the Shriner's Hospital where they kept her in traction for a week and that didn't help so they did surgery on her hips. Today she still has pain and discomfort, I was told that she will be permanently disabled due to the regrowth of her hips. Hope this doesn't scare you but it may be a thing to think of and ask your doctor.

I am a natural Healing Practitioner and usually when i see knee pain like this I check one for theses two things first; Is he getting enough calcium? Not enough calcium can cause knee pain. The second is how are his bowels working? Any constipation? The muscles and tendons thide of the leg are on the Large Intestine accupuncture line and if the bowels are off it can tighten the muscle and tendon the attaches just below the knee, pulling on the knee slightly causing knee pain. There are other things it could be that doctors won't see, these are just the most common two. Hope this helps.

My daughter will be 4 in september and she has had leg/knee pain since she was like 2 years old. I believe it is juvenile artheritis. i had the same problem when i was that age and my pediatrician told my parent it was growing pain. Today i am 22 years old and i have arthritis in my knees. so go get a second opinion.

Updated

My daughter will be 4 in september and she has had leg/knee pain since she was like 2 years old. I believe it is juvenile artheritis. i had the same problem when i was that age and my pediatrician told my parent it was growing pain. Today i am 22 years old and i have arthritis in my knees. so go get a second opinion.

My son is 3.5 and wakes up sometimes at night saying his knees / legs hurt. I tell him that they are growing pains and it is part of getting to be a big boy. I rub his leg/ knee for a little bit and he goes back to sleep. Now my son wakes up saying "mom, my growing pains hurt" I rub them and he goes back to sleep. Perhaps there really is such a thing as growing pains?/

Growing pains....you can take him/her to a naturopathic doctor and get the correct recommendations for some helpful homeopathic or herbal remedies to assist in releiving this pain naturally...serve yogurt.

If a specialist says it's nothing, you can rub Vicks on his knees. I do that for my son (3 yro) who complains 'it hurts, right here Mommy'. My mom says she used to do that for us as children; we were Vicks kids.

Good luck and keep up the great job!
By the way, if you feel there is more to his pains, then keep investigating. Trust your feelings.

I do believe it is growing pains. This happend to all of my children (3). When these pains start, get a moisturizing cream and just rub the area of pain. Tell your two and half yr.old that its a miracle cream and takes all the pain away. I do feel that eventually it will subside. They grow so fast and especially at this age they do go through a growth spurt. I wish you luck, don't use any rub that is actually for muscle pain, just a moisturizing cream. Its actually the rubbing that helps, it keeps the circulation moving and thats what is really needed. Sometimes a warm bath then the cream works wonders. Good luck and take care.

My son had the same problems since he was a toddler. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming that his knee hurt. I took him to an orthopedic specialist and they did xrays and found nothing. The doctor was hesitant to use the term "growing pains" but that he was definitely getting a cramp of some sort. When it happens I give him an Advil and an ice pack and turn on cartoons and he eventually falls back to sleep. He is 10 now and it only happens occasionally. The doctor also said to stretch his muscles out when it happens, flex his foot forward and back and all around...then straighten and bend his leg at the knee a few times. Hang in there.....

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