How Real Are Growing Pains?

You might have written off your kid’s unexplainable aches and pains as “growing pains.” As it turns out, that label may not do justice to the current situation. According to new research, the term “growing pains” isn’t the most accurate description. In fact, it might have nothing to do with expansion.

Up to half of all kids experience some sort of pain that doctors label “growing pains,” according to the research. Some kids could feel it in their legs, while others might feel it in their arms.

Neither the diagnostic nor the clinical evaluation of it was established by any universally accepted set of criteria. The meaning of this phrase and the contexts in which it was employed vary widely.

It is difficult for parents and even doctors to know what to term the pains children experience because there is no universal definition.

What Exactly Are “Growing Pains”

Musculoskeletal discomfort commonly felt by young children is what inspired the 1823 coinage of the phrase “growing pains.” People began to speculate that the children were experiencing discomfort because their skeletons were developing more rapidly than their tendons.

Aching or throbbing pain, typically in the legs but also occasionally in the arms, is a common symptom reported by those experiencing growing pains. Most people experience these aches and pains in the late afternoon, early evening, or even late at night.

Between 3 and 12 years old, these aches and pains are relatively frequent among children. Growing pains are characterized by muscle soreness, and research shows that insufficient levels of vitamin D may contribute to this symptom. Experts agree that development is not the only cause of pain and that increased activity or misuse can also contribute.

It is not linked to prosperous times. So, the term “growing pains” is misleading. Furthermore, the locations of discomfort are rarely new growth areas. Pain or cramping can occur anywhere from the thighs to the calves, including around the knees.

Some kids will weep since the pain might come on abruptly and be very severe. Experts suggest that in the worst-case scenario, children’s sleep may be disrupted. Though the discomfort is real, the term “growing pains” may not be the best fit.

According to medical experts, the word is frequently employed when no alternative reasons exist.

Is There a Name for All These Aches and Pains?

The medical definition of growing pains was determined by researchers at the University of Sydney who reviewed the findings of 147 scientific investigations and diagnostic methods. In just half of the studies, it was found that the discomfort originated in the legs. Fewer than half reported their children had pain only at night, and nearly half stated their children felt pain all the time. Over 80% of studies didn’t include the child’s age when defining growing pains. Probably most unexpected is that 93 percent of them didn’t even acknowledge the growing pains they were experiencing.

The problem is doctors can’t agree on what causes a youngster to be labeled as having “growing pains.” We cannot prescribe a specific set of diagnostic or pathological criteria because there is none. This study highlights the need for caution when employing the phrase in question, as it does not refer to a clinically-distinct condition.

Other studies corroborate these results. Many parents attribute their children’s symptoms to “growing pains,” even when they may be better explained by something else. The issue with the term “growing pains” is that it can signify different things to different people and even seem contradictory sometimes. We don’t suggest you go by that moniker. Actually, the labels “nocturnal pains” and “recurring limb pains” are more accurate descriptions of what children experience.

How Soon Should I Seek Medical Attention?

Doctors recommend keeping a log of your child’s activities when they complain of leg aches and pains. Have they been moving around more than normal, running, jumping, etc.? The extra work may be what’s causing the discomfort. If the pain disappears by morning, most of the time, the cause is simply overuse.

On the other hand, if other symptoms appear, it may be indicative of a more serious disease. Unusual or severe discomfort, loss of appetite, or decrease in physical activity are all cause for concern. Take note whether the discomfort occurs during the day or disrupts your child’s normal routine.

Joint swelling, redness surrounding a joint, trouble bending it, or pain just in the upper extremities are all reasons to contact a pediatrician. Injury, infection, or stress fractures are all possible reasons for the discomfort, according to the experts.

Get in touch with a doctor if your kid is experiencing any pain that worries you. To rule out more serious issues, doctors often conduct tests, including x-rays and blood work.

How Can I Help My Hurting Child?

If your child is in pain and you’ve taken them to the doctor, but the x-rays and other tests came back negative, or if you’ve elected to care for your child at home, you can try to ease their discomfort. There are pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen that can help with the aches. Massages, heating pads, and warm compresses can also help alleviate discomfort. Also helpful is stretching the sore muscles.

Despite the ambiguity surrounding the term “growing pains,” medical professionals assure us that the mere presence of such discomfort is not caused for concern.

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