Dealing with Growing Pains

It’s not just a television sitcom from the 1980s! (I won’t mention my crush on Kirk Cameron, either!)

Growing pains are actually a quite common phenomenon in children. I don’t remember suffering from them when I was a child — did you?

Growing pains occur most often in the legs. They are often felt after strenuous play or exercise (maybe that’s why I didn’t have them — I wasn’t much of an athlete as a kid). A child may experience growing pains during two periods of development: between the ages of three and five and between the ages of eight and twelve. Some children encounter growing pains during one or the other; some suffer from growing pains during both periods.

Your child doesn’t just have to grin and bear it. Here are some things you can do to help relieve growing pains:

  • Try an over the counter pain reliever like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). A dose before bed can help your child sleep more easily if growing pains are causing restless nights.
  • Gently stretch achy leg muscles before and after strenuous exercise and any time the growing pains cause pain. One nice, simple stretch is to sit on the floor with your legs in a V. Lean to one side, then the center, then the other side to stretch the backs of the legs really well.
  • Use a heating pad on sore leg muscles. Be sure to put some kind of buffer between the skin and the heating pad, like a towel or a blanket. Using a heating pad directly on bare skin can cause burns.
  • Soak in a hot bath. Epsom salts are usually good for relieving muscle aches.
  • Gently massage the sore leg muscles. Look here for tips on how to give a good massage!

Don’t ever give a child aspirin — it has been associated with a serious, potentially deadly condition called Reyes Syndrome. Stick to the safer acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain relief if needed.