Growing Pains

By The Pulse Dec 8, 2013

By Dr. Marjorie Wells, family practice at Sage Primary Care

Did you know the average child between kindergarten and sixth grade grows over 2 1/2 inches per year? Did you know that most of the growth occurs at night?

Growing Pains are typically described as an aching pain (like a toothache) in the long bones of the body like the thigh bones and the upper arm bones and the associated muscles. These pains are not really associated with growing but more often associated with increased levels of physical activity.

Read on for more about the possible causes of growing pains and how you might manage the symptoms.

1) Ouch!: Growing pains happen more often in the late afternoon and evening, but some children awaken from sleep with leg and arm pains.
2) Gender neutral:  Boys and girls both experience growing pains.
3) The Vitamin D effect:  The pains may be associated with a low vitamin D levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU of vitamin D intake for children, but other sources, like the Institute of Medicine, recommend 600 IU for those aged 1-70.  There have been studies of children experiencing growing pains and they typically have lower levels of vitamin D in their blood. (Believe it or not, these studies have been done in New Mexico and Pakistan, so if they do not have enough sunshine in their blood then we are in definite trouble in the winter time in Wyoming!)
4) Relaxation: Massaging and stretching the legs and placing a heating pad are often enough to relax the muscles and improve the pain
5) Pain management: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are also helpful if needed
6) Seek medical attention: Go to see your doctor if the pain doesn't improve or if your child has any of the following warning signs -- fever, weight loss, difficulty walking, localized pain or swelling.

Wells-Marjorie-MDDr. Marjorie Wells is a board-certified family practice doctor at Sage Primary Care, 1020 S. Conwell St., in Casper. Email Sage at SagePrimaryCare@wyomingmedicalcenter.org or make an appointment by calling (307) 265-8300.

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