4 1/2 Year Old Suffering with Legs at Night

Updated on June 11, 2008
C. asks from Saint Paul, MN
25 answers

My 4 1/2 year old daughter has been suffering for about a month now. When she goes to bed at night her legs are so restless she can't sleep. She begs us to pull on her legs and she constantly flexes her leg muscles - all the while she is crying and screaming that her legs are stretchy. It is like really bad Restless Leg Syndrome. It takes us about an hour of working on her legs before she falls asleep - probably out of exhaustion. Then she wakes up in the middle of the night every night with the same thing and is up for another hour or so screaming and crying with the same thing.

We went to her doctor who ran a series of blood tests - everything came back fine. She thinks my daughter probably has restless leg sydrome, but that it is made worse by a growth spurt. We are currently trying medications like Benedryl (which is often used for Restless Leg Sydrome I guess), Ibuprofen and even trying Melatonin for her with no real relief.

We are all exhausted from lack of sleep and it is awful to watch her suffer so much every night.

If anyone has ever been through this with their children or has any ideas for us on how to help her, I would really appreciate it. I don't know what else to do.

Thank you so much!

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L.K.

answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I don't have any experience with this, but I've read that putting bar soap in the foot of the bed actually helps restless leg syndrome! They don't know why or how, but there are testimonials that it works.

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A.T.

answers from Wausau on

Please have her iron levels checked. I have RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) and tried Benadryl, Requip, and just about everything you could think of until my doctor ran a blood test and discovered my iron levels were low. Now that I am taking iron, vitamin b, and vitamin c, and magneisium, in the appropriate doses it is AMAZING what a difference it has made. A good multi-vitamin, like Flintstones (which is what I take as an adult) might help. Also, there is very new research that indicates that RLS maybe linked to Celiac-Spru diease, which is the diease you have when you are allergic to glutten (the product found in wheat). If they are doing the blood test for iron levels, they can run it for Celiac-Spru. I am a mother of four kids myself, so I would not suggest putting your child through lab work unless I had a better solution to get te same answers. RLS can be painful and strange; it impacts every part of your life because you do not sleep well, as I am sure you are well aware. Best of luck to you and your daughter and I hope this helps!!

3 moms found this helpful
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S.R.

answers from Duluth on

C.,
I feel for you... my daughter was tormented with "growing pains". Thats what we call them. The pain seemed to be in the back of the legs behind the knee and in the calf area. My sons have them occasionally too, but it felt like it was constant with her. I understand that it is hard at night when you are so tired, but just remember to thinks about how they are feeling...oww. My daughter quit having them so often when she was 5 or so. like i said my twins get them every now and then. Their father and I got would take turns as to who got up with them. We would give them tylenol first and a couple sips of milk(which we told them was the secret to getting rid of growing pains) and rub their little legs until they felt better and fell back to sleep. I don't really have a super good secret to fixing them, but I hope I helped a little bit. good luck

2 moms found this helpful
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J.G.

answers from Milwaukee on

Has anyone tried giving her a banana?
Did your docotr suggest bananas?

Try giving her a few tums tonight before she goes to bed.
Let me know what happens.

My co-worker had the same cramps in his foot. I usually get them really bad, but this tells me that my calcium is low.
Did they check her calcium levels or para-thyroid?

I have Hyper-parathyroidism. This is where the calcium is leaving my bones and going into my blood stream.

This is one of the symptoms of low calcium.

She could be just sensitive and going through growth sperts. Try the bananas & the Tums first and promise to let me know what happens tomorrow.

I take a about 5 Tums. So I would try 2 or 3 with your little one. Try 2 the first night and 3 the second.

J.

2 moms found this helpful
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C.G.

answers from Davenport on

I had growing pains when I was little....very painful and not much you can do for them since doctors don't really know what causes them. I also had major leg cramps when I was pregnant.

Some things I did to help avoid them:
Drink plenty of water: dehydration can cause muscle cramps
Take a multiple vitamin: in case she is low on potassium or calcium.
Try not to eat salty foods, especially close to bedtime.

I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful
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B.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi C..
My name is B.- a former sufferer of restless leg since I was a kid.
Email me at [email protected]____.com
I'll tell you- I was up - up to 5 times a night - poor sleep- went on some nutritional products for weight mgmt- and my restless leg sypmtoms subsided after 3 days much to everyone's surprise including mine.
I called my mentors- they didn't know I had it.
There are 3 types of restless leg- a nutritional def. type, a genetic type and a nerve system disorder type.
If your daughter happens to be one of the lucky ones that can be helped by nutrition, I might be able to help her too. It's worth a try.
I can't say too much more on this- considered advertising, but you can email me your number and I'll you back.
Or you can just email and I can email you more info if you don't want to talk yet.
I'm a 47 yo med prof who sleeps like a baby now, wellness coach now because of my great belief from this and no more migraines, and a mom of almost 7yo twin girls.

B. jarmoluk
verizon cell ###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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A.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

I would try all of the following:

Rule out nerve stress by seeing a Chiropractor. It could just be pressure on the nerves to her legs from the small of her back. Very common.

Rule out nervous system stress by eliminating all toxic things she may be eating: artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, corn sweeteners, and trans-fats (hydrogenated oils and fats).

Rule out vitamin overdoes or deficiency: Eliminate any mulit-vitamin she may be on and add in a calcium/magnesium supplement instead.

Once you have exhausted all of these possibilities, then consider looking into RLS.

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D.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I haven't seen this in my children, but I have it myself. It is like a Chinese water torture. It drove me to extreme lengths trying to solve it without success for years. I developed depression because of sleep deprivation and the feeling of being out of control all the time. In a word, it was HORRIBLE.

I have a lot chronic pain issues so I take pain medications and interestingly enough, they take care of the RLS as well. I don't know what is safe for kids, but I would strongly encourage you to keep trying to find an answer. There is nothing worse than this problem in my experience. Keep looking for an answer for her.

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B.M.

answers from Appleton on

My brother used to have something similar when he was young. (Which was waaay back before RLS even had a name.) My mom used to take a towel, either a bath towel or hand towel depending on the size of your child, fold it in half and wrap it around his leg. She then secured it with masking tape. Repeat with the other leg. I guess this work by keeping a small amount of pressure on the legs and retaining heat. Hopefully this can help your little one.

1 mom found this helpful
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A.C.

answers from Madison on

Hi C.,

Wow. I thought the two families I know--and we--were the only ones who were suffering from this. My niece started with her legs hurting when she was very little--I want to say, maybe 2 years old? My bil and sil took her to all kinds of specialists, had tons and tons of tests done (to include allergies, Rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, different neurological), only to be told all these years later (she'll be 6 this Aug) that it's just growing pains, but apparently, they're pretty severe for her.

A friend's daughter also had the same problem. I don't know when it started to affect her, but it was also her legs. Her mom told me how she'd spend hours during the night--every night--rubbing her daughter's legs so the pain would go away and she could sleep. This went on for years; one night, the pains just stopped and never came again (sorry, I don't know how old she was. I do know it went on for at least 10 years).

In fact, my daughter, who is now 8, used to complain and cry that her feet hurt when she was younger, too. After checking to make sure her shoes still fit and that they had good arch support (we had to buy her extra arch supports), we'd have to also rub them and/or give her a hot water bottle. That seemed to help, although she'd still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night crying, screaming, and complaining that they hurt. Many nights, she'd sit on the side of the tub with her feet in some warm water. Her's weren't all the time, though; we discovered that usually it would happen if 1) she'd outgrown her shoes/arch support or 2) when she'd be in a growth spurt (when she'd shoot up a half inch/inch).

All I can tell you is that she'll grow out of it in a few years, and that, yes, it does hurt very, very bad. If you have anything in the family like arthritis, you might want to have that checked, just to make sure.

I feel your pain. I spent many, many nights up with my daughter, trying to make her comfortable so she could sleep=and me, too. And it's harder when they're young, because they don't understand that, sometimes, mom and dad can't make the pain go away. When I was younger, I used to get Charlie Horses in my legs; that's probably what your daughter has, too, only on a more profound scale.

As they say, this too shall pass.

A.

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S.L.

answers from San Diego on

I had this horribly a few years ago. I tried everything. The thing that worked best was a combination of magnesium about 1 1/2 hrs before bed, an increase in my calcium tablets, increase in dairy in my diet (like a glass of milk before bed) and stretching yoga. The Y offers yoga for kids. It made a HUGE difference. Good Luck.

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J.M.

answers from Milwaukee on

My 4 year old has been complaining of the same thing. I just thought she was trying to get out of going to bed. LOL

We give her a pillow and the heating pad to put under her legs and she falls asleep, then we turn off the heating pad and move it, for safety. We also keep an eye on her. It seems to help. Good luck!

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B.S.

answers from Denver on

Hi C.,

I have RLS that gets worse when I am pregnant--I understand her agony! This sounds odd, but it really works if one does have RLS. Put a bar of soap at the foot of her bed, under her covers so that it is right next to her feet. I read this in a newspaper article and it really does work. If you have some sort of routine before bed where she is settled down and in one place, you might put the soap with her before she actually gets into bed, that way it has a chance to work before she lays down and it gets really bad. I don't know if a particular brand works or doesn't work, but we use Dial. Again, just take it out of the box/wrapper and put it at the foot of her bed when she sleeps. Hope this helps! If not, I have heard of kids this age having "growing pains" in thier legs. Maybe try tylenol before bed???? Good luck!

B.

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I do not have any experience with restless leg syndrome at all, but I would suggest chiropractic care for your entire family. It is amazing what regular chiropractic care can achieve. I have a great chiropractor that I can recommend if you need one. The office is in Maplewood but he also sees patients in his home in Apple Valley.

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K.F.

answers from Milwaukee on

I am 51 years old and had this same problem my whole life. One I found out I have low Iron, so take iron vitamins, also take magneisium, potassiam. But I found out from the doctor if you do not want to take any meds. The best thing is to drink tonic water. It has natural potassiam in it. I can not stand the tase so I mix it with 7 up or another white soda. I also do leg strectes two time a day. I have never had another problem with sleeping anymore.

Some strectes to do with your daughter, have her sit and just strect the leg, with toes pointing, then pull the foot up and hold. also do the a, b,c with the foot. just like you are writing then but instead using the foot.
I have not had any problems sleeping in years. Good luck

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A.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

oh my gosh, Amie, that totally fits (at least for me). I have an aunt who has seriously low iron and has bad RLS. But when I was little I used to have what I and everyone in my family just figured were growing pains and I have borderline low iron and always have.
I wonder if that is why I have odd sensations in my feet and hands some mornings.

Christie, I feel for you and your daughter. I have had that "stretchy" leg feeling and my kids have too, so I've been in your place as well, rubbing my babies' legs in the middle of the night.
I hope you are able to find the solution and get some sleep.

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J.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

The issue I had with my legs when I was young was different (they ached something horrible), but maybe it would be something that might help. My dad would take a big bath towel and wrap it around my legs nice and tight. He would anchor the inside end between my legs and wind it around both of them. It was always really calming for me. I have no idea if this would help with restless legs, but its worth a shot! Good luck!!

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K.W.

answers from Omaha on

I am not going to be helpful but I remember this as a child. I would frantically rock my legs back and forth (and still do today although it has eased up a bit...) in order to get rid of the feeling. My stepson had "growing pains" that would wake him up crying at night because his leg bones would hurt so bad. What I had was definitely not growing pains. Someone said it is like Chinese Water Torture and I would agree. I would be soooo tired but my legs felt like they needed to get up and run a marathon. Sounds like you were given some really good suggestions that I am now going to try for myself - so hopefully your daughter will see relief and THANKS for asking this question!

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S.B.

answers from St. Cloud on

Hi C.! Have you tried any essential oils? I would suggest lavender first, and then see where to go from there. If you'd like more info, I could try and help you out. I do not sell them, just use them for our entire family! Wonderful results for some of the most amazing things... Best wishes for you and your family.

~S.

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B.S.

answers from Sioux Falls on

Hi C., I know this is a few days late but I haven't checked my email recently. I feel compelled to tell you about my story in hopes that this might help. Over 6 years ago I had gastric bypass surgery for weight loss. As a result, I also don't absorb several key nutrients. One of them is b-12. During my last pregnancy I became very ill and ended up having a blood transfusion and IV iron infusions. My b-12 levels were literally dangerously low. I developed a severe case of restless leg syndrome and I can thoroughly empathized with your daughter. I cannot tell you how horrible it was to wake up with your legs jumping around and twitching. It wasn't until I started getting b-12 shots and my levels brought up that it went away. I know she had blood work done, but maybe this should be something else to look into as well. Hope this helps.

B.

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A.O.

answers from St. Cloud on

My friend's little girl suffered from the same issue. My friend tracked the occurance of the pain and found it was most likely to happen on days she was really active and played harder than usual. It happened other times too just not as extreme. My friend found that if she made sure her daughter drank a lot of water throughout the day the pain was not as severe. I hope this helps.

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P.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

When I was little my brother suffered from really bad growing pains in his legs whenever he had a growth spurt. My dad would rub liniment oil on his legs. It seemed to calm him down and ease the pain. I remember it had a strong smell but maybe there is a kind that isn't as strong these days. I know if my 2 kids ever have pain even 1/2 as bad as my brother liniment oil will be the first thing I try. Hope this is helpful info.

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P.B.

answers from Appleton on

I actually suffer from Restless Leg and can confirm it's no fun. I did hear that iron can help control it. So for awhile I was taking an iron supplement along with vitamin c because it helps the iron digest or something. I'm not sure if a 4 1/2 can take iron but you could check. Another thing my Mom read about in a medical magazine sounds really strange. I don't believe it's been medically proven but several people have claimed that it works. I've tried it and whether it a mental thing it does seem to help. I put a bar of ivory soap under my sheets at the end of my bed. Yes, I know it's weird! The only reason I can think of why it would work is because my foot plays with it at night so maybe my legs don't need to be restless. Who knows, but it was something very inexpensive to try and it helps most of the time. For your daughter you may want to move it up in the bed so it would be closer to where her feet end. I don't know. My dr. did put me on some anxiety medication that calms be down at night time so then I don't have the restless leg. I only take it when I can feel it coming on. I have also heard heat and/or cold works also, you could try that. Good Luck.

P.

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A.D.

answers from Davenport on

Annette seems to have some great answers for you. I was also going to suggest consulting with a chiropractor.

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D.L.

answers from Rapid City on

Ok C. --- old wives tale/trick/remedy here. My mother (76 yrs old) and myself (51 yrs old) both suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome all our lives. About 2 yrs ago someone told her to put an unwrapped bar of soap under the bottom sheet (between sheet and matress) down by the feet. Within 2 days we both slept well with hardly any symptoms!

It is definitely weird but I even passed on this "remedy" to one of my girlfriends who has bouts with her legs and she too found it to be a huge relief. It is worth the effort to try!

Also - have you thought about going to a medical supply store to get some support stockings for her to wear at night? They may have to special order them for her size but it would be worth the price for relief for your little one.

Good luck - try the soap though :-)
D.

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