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Growing pains are very common in childhood, affecting between 10% and 20% of children between 3 and 10 years old. The cause of these pains is not well known, since not usually related to growth rate, nor with the closure of the growth plate, although sometimes they coincide with times of greater growth or 'spurts'.
Growth pain episodes occur normally in the afternoon or evening, referring to the lower limbs. These pains usually last between 10 and 30 minutes, and usually occur in the pretibial region (in the front of the calves), calves, popliteal hollows (the back of the knees) or thighs. Its intensity is variable, even waking up the child at night.
The pain is not localized to a specific point. It is rather diffuse, and changes its location, for example one day it may affect a calf and another day the thigh of the opposite leg. Symptoms are generally intermittent, with painless intervals, which can range from days to weeks. That is, they can present them one night and then be without symptoms for a few weeks.
Growing pains in children subside with local heat. You can put an electric blanket on it for a few minutes, for example. Massages in the painful area can also relieve pain. And they can improve with muscle stretching of the affected limb.
The usual pain relievers (paracetamol or ibuprofen) can also be given. They respond well after 10 to 15 minutes.
Your prognosis is benign and tend to disappear with age. The diagnosis is based on the anamnesis (in the questions that the pediatrician will ask you about the pain) as well as on the absence of alterations in the joint examination (the joints are not swollen or red), so it does not require complementary examinations.
They should go to the doctor:
- If the pain is very persistent
- If you notice that a joint or a specific area is swollen or red
- If it occurs after an injury or trauma
- If the child has a fever, lameness, skin rashes, loss of appetite, weakness, tiredness or abnormal behavior is observed in the child.
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