My Sons Legs Hurt

Updated on October 15, 2010
S.W. asks from Litchfield, MN
13 answers

My son who is 4 woke up on Tuesday morning crying cause his legs hurt and told me he couldn't walk. He hadn't taken any falls or anything so I assumed he had a charlie horse or growing pains. I gave him a warm bath, masaged his legs and gave him motrin. He then walked with a limp but much better than he was walking before and still complained they hurt. I kept him home from daycare and just watched him, he still said his legs hurt all day but walked much better. This morning we started all over with the sore legs he walked like a robot not bending his knees. I gave him motrin and massaged them but he is still complaining they hurt. He is walking still with a little limp but will go off and run and play and then a little while later complains his legs hurt. I don't see any swelling or abnormalities so could this be a charlie horse or growing pains or should I be taking him to the doctor. He has no fever and nothing else hurts? Any suggestions would be great. I don't think he is faking cause this morning we decided to walk to work and he asked if he could ride in the strolled which he has never done in his life cause he loves walking.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Our son went through growing pains, and still does occasionally (he's 12 now). It tends to be more noticeable if he has been really physically active.. as that does a lot of stretching of the muscles when they are already stretched due to growth spurts.

But, he also had a strange thing go on around age 5... we were on a trip, and when he woke up in the morning, he complained of his legs hurting. It hurt to extend them while standing. Just extending them will lying down wasn't a big deal, but he couldn't do it with any weight on them. So he hobbled and cried trying to walk. We thought, oh growing pains, etc... it'll relax as the day goes on. Well, it didn't really.. of course, we were in the car most of the day, so he didn't get to stretch much. But, he had been fighting off a cold, and that particular day didn't drink much of anything but water (pushing fluids due to the cold). The next morning, he was still unable to stand and bear the weight of his body, so we took him to the ER (we were at my mom's out of town and it was a Sunday, so couldn't see our regular doc). They did all sorts of bloodwork, and really found pretty much nothing. While waiting for the results of the blood work, he was thirsty/hungry. So I walked down to the vending machines and got him a Powerade and pack of crackers. He drank about 1/3 of the 20 oz Powerade, and when the Doc came back in to go over the blood work results, and recheck his legs again, he was FINE. COMPLETELY recovered from whatever it was. At this point, I believe it was more of an electrolyte imbalance. His bloodwork showed they were slightly off, but nothing dramatic, but then they didn't really have "normal" values for a kid his size (if i remember what they told me correctly) without having run the bloodwork when he was healthy as a benchmark. So maybe it was really WAY off for him.
Obviously, I wouldn't not go to the doctor based on what I have shared about our son's story, but it certainly couldn't hurt him at all to drink an electrolyte beverage or two to make sure everything is in balance.
Just a thought..

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answers from Houston on

"Pediatrician and editor of "The 3a.m. Handbook", Dr. William Feldman says “growing pains, by definition, means that it occurs in both legs usually around bed time. It can usually be made better by rubbing the legs or giving a little acetaminophen.”

Typically growing pains occur at night while a child is off his feet and in bed. And unless the pain is caused by something else, Dr. Feldman says parents can rest assured that growing pains will pass in time. “Growing pains, if you’re sure that they are growing pains, should never be a sign of concern. There are a couple of hallmarks of growing pains. First it always affects both legs, so if a child only has a pain in just one leg, never the other, then that’s not typical and should be seen by a physician. If you notice redness around the joints, swelling around the legs, a rash, fever or a limp then it’s not growing pains and the child should be seen.”

Dr. Feldman adds that growing pains are “always gone by morning”. If these pains are still present upon awakening this could signal something more serious. "


I would say growing pains, but because he is limping and it goes on through out the day, I would at least call the nurse's line to see if that is consistent behavior for growing pains. It could very well be that.

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answers from Los Angeles on

yes it could be growing pains. my husband went threw the same thing at that age and so did his cousin. the males in his family are 6 foot and above. Does your family have a tallness in there genes?
go ahead and take him to the docor, but it sounds like what my ghusband went threw.
by the way my husbands was a rare case brcause it was so severe.
good luck

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answers from Chicago on

My son did the same thing at that age. It turned out it was just 'growing pains' they went away after a while- but even now, over the summer (he is 10) he had some again- and shot up about 2" in a month! So you could get him checked out, but it sounds very similar to what my son went through .

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answers from Buffalo on

It cannot hurt to call the MD and get him looked at. I think it is just growing pains, but still call put your mind at ease.

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answers from Dallas on

I wouldn't panic or anything but would continue to be concerned if it isn't gone in a day or two. Spinal problems can cause leg pain. I would say take him to the doctor on Friday if he is still complaining of leg pain, not walking normally, or not acting like himself. It is probably nothing serious but sometimes it is just best to go in and make sure. Let us know.



answers from Philadelphia on

My 6 year old was telling my husband her legs hurt her last night. he was telling her that it is becasue she is growing up and her bones have to grow too. My daughter wasn't in as much pain. I think it can't hurt to call your sons ped just on case. Good luck!



answers from Milwaukee on

My niece had similar symptoms. Her parents took her to the doctor, and then she was referred to a orthapedic doc. They found the problem! She has flat feet.....and the flat feet was affecting her knees-they were turning in when she walked.

She got ortho's (inserts for her shoes) and hasn't had any problems since! Hope that helps.....



answers from Omaha on

I'd go to your primary care physician and let them rule out the things they suspect but I'd guess you need to go to a ortho. Could be a bone disease, something to do with the foot, hip.. whatever. But I wouldn't let this be. This extreme of a change of behavior and constant gripe should be checked out in my opinion.



answers from Minneapolis on

As a child my legs hurt also, and then (much later) my son started complaining about his legs hurting. I had some geranium essential oil on hand so I rubbed a few drops on his knees. He said the pain went away. Could be worth a try.


answers from Modesto on

I had "growing pains" bad when I was little, but I remember them because I was about 5 or 6. My mom would have me lay on the cool kitchen floor while she massaged each leg... and probably gave me baby aspirin at that time. I agree that you could wait a few days and see if it passes.....if not, take him to the doc. You do want to rule out arthritus for sure.



answers from Naples on

I don't recall it hurting to grow when I was a child - and our family is very tall. (my younger sister is 6'4, my younger brother 6'7" and I'm 5'11")
What type of footwear is your son wearing all day & how active is he in it?
I used to manage a children's shoe store a million years ago, when "jellies" were so popular. One pediatrician used to tell everyone to go "Get extra support keds and make sure that they have a good bump in them"... Aaaarrrrgggh! 1st) If you turn those old school keds over and look at the sole - it is not flat - it is rounded, and there is no "counter" in the back (heel cup area). If a child pronates (rolls in) or suppinates (rolls out) those keds and other cheap shoes will do NOTHING to stop it from happening and actually exacerbate the problem. We would show this to the parents, demonstrate with an empty shoe how easily it rolls in and out, and how flimsy the counter (heel cup area) it was so easy to see how it would cause problems. Think about it.....if your son's ankles are rolling in or out - the muscles in their legs are pulled a little out of whack and if he's busy busy busy using those muscles all day - they're bound to hurt like crazy at the end of the day! My recommendation is this.....if you have a small family owned children's shoe store in your area - go there! If you don't - do the best you can but here is what to look for. 1) leather, not vinyl, leather is a skin - it has pores, it breathes and gets more flexible - it's not a sweaty sweat box that will just end up cracking and splitting later. 2) COURT style shoes rather than jogger styles. Because A)the court style (tennis / basketball) usually have a more square toe box area - rather than pointy and narrow like joggers. Kid's feet are square and the shoes will fit longer as those Fred Flintstone square feet won't outgrow too soon by wedging into a narrow part of the shoe too early. & B) Court style shoes have FLAT flat flat soles - and if the foot rolls in or out - it will help support the foot and hold it up straight. Jogger styles are "elevated" in the back - which will just give that rolling foot more space to roll over! 3) Look for a firm "counter" - that is the part of the shoe that wraps around the back of the heel. It should feel very re-enforced and firm - cheap shoes have almost nothing back there. That area - helps to hold the foot up from the back. Don't let him kick the shoes off - one foot pulling the other shoe down etc... this will only break down the counter sooner and defeat it's purpose. 4) LACES - NOT VELCRO. With laces - you can pull the center area a little snugger so - to also help support his foot. 5) If you have a mom and pop - locally owned family shoe store - ask them about cookies. If not - a good shoe repair place probably has them. They are little thin leather pads, with a rubber bump under them - that come in sizes and are glued into the shoe with rubber cement. I wouldn't bother with Payless shoes or those types. The people there - while they always offer to "measure" when you come in, when it comes down to it, I don't think that they actually have any training in shoe construction or foot health. The people that I worked for so many years ago - are a 4th generation family shoe store. They were the only Stride Rite & Buster Brown dealer in 3 Counties, and we even filled all of the Ortho prescriptions (adults & children) for 3 counties as well!. I feel like I learned alot in my years there, and it has helped me now that I am a mother and have my own child. Amazingly enough - I don't think the pediatricians spend alot of time learning about feet either! When I had my daughter - I made an appointment with the people that I used to work for - traveled 3 hours to get there and bought my daughter 2 pairs of "old school" white leather baby shoes as soon as she started pulling herself up and walking around furniture. My pediatrician had never seen anything like it - and was actually fascinated by them. When I told him the benefits - and why shoes vs sneakers on a baby - he was amazed, shook his head and said it made perfect sense and wondered why more people didn't know that. So,,,,,,there is my 2 cents worth + some! I think that if you try it - you'll see for yourself how it works, I've had many many many many customers through the years that would come back a week after we changed them into what I just recommended - and they would ALL say "you were right - she (he) is so much better....the difference is unbelievable!" Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

My son experienced something similar when he was 6. He was scooting around the house because it hurt to walk. One knee bothered him more than the other. We did go to the doctor when he wasn't better the next day and they didn't find anything but they did do and xray and blood test to rule out problems such as lyme disease.

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