Growing Pains

Even though growing pains do not cause any permanent damage to the bones or joints, they can cause significant amount of discomfort at times.

Limb Pain

Pain in the lower legs is the most common type of growing pain. This type of pain usually occurs at night, as the child is getting ready to go to sleep. The pain can involve just one leg or both legs, and the child frequently asks the parent to rub it or put a warm compress on it. This pain can persist for half an hour or more, but it shouldn't prevent the child from ultimately falling asleep.

The most likely explanation for growing pain is that the bone can sometimes grow at a faster rate than the outer covering of the bone. When this occurs, the covering of the bone is stretched beyond its normal size, and the tension causes pain. It's not unlike having your child dressed in clothes that are two sizes too small. As the bone lengthens, it puts stress on the covering of the bone until it, too, stretches to keep up with the growth.

Fact

The hallmark for this type of growing pain is that it is always gone by the morning. It seldom occurs on a daily basis, and it rarely prevents the child from running and playing during the day. This pain is part of the normal growing process, so it is not associated with fever or weight loss.

Chest Pain

It is always alarming for a child to complain of a pain in the chest. Luckily, the vast majority of chest pains in children are innocuous. By far, the most common cause for a chest pain in a child is a particular type of growing pain known as costochondritis.

This condition usually occurs at rest although it can also occur during active periods. Similar to the other type of growing pain, the rate of growth of the ribs sometimes outpaces that of the cartilaginous connection of the ribs. This results in elevated tension in the rib connections to the central breastbone.

Alert!

If your child has a history of heart problem or asthma, do not hesitate to bring her to the doctor's office when she experiences chest pain. A typical case of costochondritis should not cause dizziness or coughing. Even if the chest pain turns out to be benign, it is better to be safe than sorry.

When evaluating costochondritis, the pediatrician carefully listens to the heart and lungs of your child to rule out other problems that might cause chest pain. In addition, the doctor will probably press her fingers against various spots on the chest to attempt to recreate the painful sensation. If the pain can be reproduced this way, then a diagnosis of costochondritis is confirmed.

Like other types of growing pain, costochondritis resolves on its own once growth is complete. It is likely to come and go as your child grows, so there is no need to fret each time this occurs. The pain can usually be eased with ibuprofen, assuming it lasts for more than a few minutes.

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