Need Advice for Growing Pains

Updated on September 29, 2009
C.W. asks from San Jose, CA
13 answers

My 4 1/2 yr old son is waking up in the middle of the night saying his legs hurt. It happens once every couple months. This week it was the back of his knees that hurt. It hurts so much it makes him cry. When it first started, I down-played it and didn't know what he was talking about. My husband recognized it as growing pains and said he had it as a kid. Is there anything I can do to help him in the middle of the night? How long does this typically go on for and why does it occur? I feel a bit helpless when this happens. Should I try giving a pain killer like children's motrin? Thanks for any advice you may have.

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answers from Salinas on

One of the best products out there is called Calc Phos 6X. It is a homeopathic cell salt. Hylands makes a good brand, and you can find it in most health food stores, or whole food stores. I am a homeopath and my kid clients always ask for that tasty stuff that takes the pain away.It really works and is only about $10 a bottle. My kids swear by it too :-)

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answers from San Francisco on

My 9 year old daughter has had growing pains on and off for the last few years. What has worked for us is to get a muscle releiving cream to massage on the legs, (something like Icy Hot or Bengay type of thing) I massage it into the muscle to get it to relax and that always seems to help - rarely do we ever have to give her Motrin. Another thing we have heard is to make sures she drinks a lot of water - because dehydration can cause muscles to clench up. We have an electrolyte in our house that she drinks a small portion of an days she has been extremely busy running around.

Good Luck!!

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answers from Stockton on

My middle daughter gets these and when she gets them I put her in a nice warm shower and give her a dose of Motrin. By the time she is out of the shower she is feeling much better. Also, she has now able to tell me when she feels them coming on, and we try and catch it before she is really in pain, but she is 9. I didn't know that there was any homeopathic stuff out there. When I researched growing pains online nothing came up but the advice I do with the shower and Motrin. I will definitly be trying the stuff that was mentioned in the previous posting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My son has had "growing pains" since he was 4. He's now 8 1/2 and still gets them. It still brings him to tears at times, and he doesn't cry often!

The pains were happening so often (about once a week), that I asked his dr. about them to make sure it wasn't anything else. His dr. said they're probably a combo of growing pains and exercise. If he ran a lot or played kick ball, etc. that day, he would be more sore at night. I make sure I ask about them at each of his well-checks.

There's a couple things we've tried. If he's starting to get sore at bedtime, I use Absorbine Jr. It's a roll-on that you can find at Longs. It smells really strong, but seems to help. It's for sore muscles. I'll also use a heating pad on low or rub his legs. If it's really really bad to where it wakes him up at night, I'll give him Motrin.

I'm still waiting for him to "out grow" the growing pains!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Water and more water. My 6 year old son goes through this and has been for a few years now, luckily his twin sister doesn't. However, when he is fully hydrated it doesn't happen so we bought him his own Camelback water bottle, let him pick it out and keep it full.

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answers from Redding on

Dear C.,
I got the worst growing pains in my legs when I was a little girl. I would cry and cry. At first my mom just kind of poo-pooed me saying I just ran too much or played too hard that day. I was really afraid because it hurt so bad, but my dad told me it was because I was growing and he would stay in my room and rub my legs for me until I fell asleep. I did outgrow the pains, but I still remember them. Vividly.
So, when my kids started getting them, I would give them Motrin and a heating pad and rub their little legs for them until they fell asleep.
I wasn't concerned because the pain wasn't accompanied by fever or any swelling and was gone in the morning and the kids were as active as usual.
Definitely run it by your pediatrician, but actual growing pains are really pretty normal.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Hi C.!
I had those same pains when I was young, and they are very painful. Please give him some pain medicine. My mother wouldn't give me anything for mine(she said that she had had them too and didn't get anything for the pain)I'm 51 years old, and I still remember it well.Give him something for inflammation, ibuprofen etc.... My legs ached like a bad toothache for hours at a time. Please be sure and give him some thing for it.
Good luck! I don't remember how old I was when they were gone, but I will pray for him that they leave quick!

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answers from San Francisco on

What does his pediatrician say? I remember my little girl having "growing pains in her legs when she was a little girl. She does have long leg bones. thank goodness she outgrew it. I do remember consulting my doctor about it and he did some tests to rule out other more serious things...I don't remember giving her any pain medicine. Good luck. It is so scary to have our little ones crying over unexplained pain. N.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,
I am a pediatric physical therapist who often helps families with children who have growing pains. There are a few theories behind growing pains: increased activity during the day causing the pain or pain of the muscles stretching as the leg bone grows. Regardless of the cause, the pain is very real for the child and waking up with it can be very scary. Please let your child know this is normal and happens to many children (25-40% of kids experience this). It usually lasts into the teen years but can come and go in frequency and intensity. Things you can do to help: warm bath or shower before bed to relax the muscles, stretch the calf muscle by keeping his knee straight and gently bringing his foot toward his his shin (so toes are going toward his shin), have him wear thick leg warmers over his calves to keep them warm when sleeping and put a warm hot water bottle in bed with him. If he still wakes up in the middle of the night with pain, you can give him Motrin or Tylenol, apply heat to his calves and massage them. It is always wise to consult your pediatrician to rule out any other causes for the pain.

If you have more questions or concerns, you may call me at ###-###-####. Good luck and good sleeping!

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answers from San Francisco on

You already heard from a lot of people validating the pain and the existence of growing pains but I had them so often I have to put in another vote. I see one person dismissing them and of course, it's not always growing pains but they do exist. My 5 year old daughter has had them for about a year and I notice a big connection to when she had a very busy day. I definitely give Tylenol. If it was weekly, I might hesitate but like your son, it's not that frequent so I don't think Tylenol does any harm once in awhile. (or Motrin). I also rub her leg for awhile. They really do stink to suffer through so he's not overreacting etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bakersfield on

Hi C.-
I had this when I was a kid, too. The best thing I can think of is to get some extra fluffy pillows and prop your son up, taking all pressure off of his legs while he sleeps. I still sleep with a body pillow, at 29 years old. Also, you can try a low dose of tylenol, but make sure he is getting plenty of vitamins- like eating his peas (they are a super food!) - stretches before bed, gently but fully, and drinks lots of water. That should help him some, I hope.
Also have him lay on the floor with his legs bent and feet up on the sofa- like he is sitting, but practically upside down. This helps the blood flow and released any pressure from his legs.
Good luck!
-E. M

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi C.,

I personally don't buy in to growing pains. Here is why.

An infant grows more during his first year (and even faster during the first 6 months) than he ever will in his whole life. If growing pains were a reality, I would think ALL babies would be screaming of pain for that first year.

Beyond nerve endings being damaged, pain typically comes from inflammation.

My daughter started having knee pain at 5. She would only complain once in a while.I thought she fell on it. It persisted on and off, for a year. My husband and the doc both said growing pains. By 7 it was in the other knee. by 8, it was sometimes in her hip. it moved to the other hip. It moved back and forth, and some days no pain. By 10 in was in her back as well. At 10 she had x rays, bone scans, blood workups, etc. nothing showed up.

She is now 12. She no longer has days with no pain. It is always somewhere. We are still trying to figure out what my daughter has. One doc said she could have Anklyosing Spondilitis, but the test came back negative and went back to the growing pains diagnosis! Another doc said she has low blood pressure - (she recently started blacking out when she stands up.) Another doc tested her for LYME disease. She showed some titers but the test was inconclusive. They started her on antibiotics for lyme. She has shown some improvement of pain level (from a 7 to a 4)however pain is now in front muscles of thighs as well. All of these could be a possibility, as she has symptom overlap of many things. She also has symptoms, that started a couple years ago, of Chronic fatigue Syndrome. CFS has crossover syptoms with lyme, Fibromyalgia, and others.

I do medical research about her and here is what I have come up with so far.

Two things to note with her:

One, she has a unrinary tract infection at 3, that the docs misdiagnosed and it went to her kidneys for a week before they diagnosed it correctly again. She was reinfected several times in the next 2 years, ecoli, Klebsiella, Staph, and kept getting antibiotics. Long story short- she had virulent bacteria that I think eventually ended up in her blood stream.

Two, she was on soy formula as a baby. I have come across much information that points to soy disrupting the endocrine system. I'll talk more about that later.

First, back to bacteria. Bacterial infections can produce arthritic symptoms. They have taken synovial fluid from the knees of people in pain and/or diagnosed with Anklyosing Spodilitis, and found Klebsiella bacteria. The bacteria causes inflammation- leading to pain.

Indeed, lyme infection is caused by a spirochete bacteria, Borrelia Burgdoferi. Knees are the most common joint affected in Lyme. When several children in Lyme, Connecticut started presenting with arthritis in knees, elbows, etc.- they found it was caused by bacteria transferred from a tic bite. Some scientists now claim they have found mosquitos and fleas that are carrying it too, although many other docs, who still tow the AMA line, don't accept those claims. many docs still claim california doesn't have tics that carry lyme, although that has been disproven time and again. If you want more info on diagnosing Lyme and the "THE" lab to go to, contact me.

Bacterias, viruses, heavy metals and poisons can be introduced into the body via vaccinations. There are researchers who have found many nasty things in vaccines. There have been documented cases of people becoming parapalegic, autistic and arthritic after shots.

Getting back to the edocrine system. Soy, due to it being estrogenic, can disrupt the endocrine system and cause hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can cause arthritis like symptoms. Soy is in absolutely everything now adays, including ice cream! It can be called soy isolate, soy exract, soy protien, soy lethicin, etc. Chlorine,floride, bromine, parabens in lotions, are all estrogenic as well. Estrogen dominance can trigger abnormal calcium deposits in soft tissue leading to inflammation and arthritis.

Since feeding soy formula is equlvalent to 5 birth control pills a day, it is possible my DD has estrogen dominance. This is my next quest with her doctor- to test her hormone levels.

I think Iodine is very important and I have started giving her supps for that - it is called IDORAL, found online. Iodine saturates the thyroid, keeping it healthy, and Iodine is anti bacterial-viral-protozoa- so it cleans the blood as the blood passes through the thyroid. MOST people now adays are iodine deficient, especially since our food and water contamination kills our iodine stores.

Magnesium deificiency can cause right side pain in legs and calcium deficiency- left side leg pains. bathing in a bath w/ 2 cups epsom salts , 3 x a week, can give the body magnesium. This is easy and inexpensive to try. It also enduces sleep. Magnesium and calcium compete, so have him also drink raw milk too. (
ps...some bacteria depletes magnesium!

As far as your doc saying it is growing pains- there are tests they can do to point towards inflammation in the body. SED rate is one and surely there are others although probably more expensive. Even a sed rate test can be pricey, depending on your insurance.

Keep looking for answers.

When my daughter is having bad pain, we put castor oil on a square of flannel(saturate it)then put it on the pain area and cover it with a heating pad for a half hour.It works.
Found this idea online.

here is more websites ...




answers from San Francisco on

Hi C., Your son could be suffering from juvenile arthritis, not growing pains, if his knees are hurting him. Next time he experiences such pains that he cries, you might think about having his pediatric Dr. check him out. Sincerely, CJ

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