Growth pains: When the "growing up" hurts

Pain during growth is often not taken seriously in pre-school and school children. But they are not conceited, difficult to recognize. Most attacks begin in the evening when the child is supposed to sleep. It cries and asserts for about 10 to 15 minutes that it has pain in the knees, ankles or arms. This phase lasts about two weeks. Then, for half a year, rest with the "children's theater". Is this a scam or a serious problem?

Diagnosis needs experience

Many textbooks do not mention growth pains or devote only a few lines to the symptoms. The problem is not rare. A quarter to a half of all children between the ages of five and ten suffers every now and then, often two to three times a year, for several weeks.

The only symptom of growing pains is the pain of the arms and legs, sometimes the feet, alternately left or right. There is no redness, swelling, rash or fever. Laboratory tests remain negative. Most attacks are in the evening or at night, rarely during the day. The diagnosis is also difficult to make, because the small patient with regard to the pain severity and the place of pain can only rarely provide reliable information.

Causes still unclear

The cause of pain in growth could be the stretching of the tendons and ligaments. "The tendons and ligaments do not grow so fast when the body stretches at night and grows at a thrust of 0.2 millimeters, " Dr. med. Wolfgang Sohn, general practitioner from Schwalmtal. As a therapy heat is recommended, for example by massage, Moorsalben or infrared radiation.

If it is particularly bad, pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also be used. "Very important is the attention of the parents, " advises Sohn. Take the child's complaints seriously. Comfort it and maybe read a story or sing together, because distraction reduces the pain.

Typical signs of growing pains

  • Usually occurs in infancy, sometimes until puberty.
  • Occur in the evening or at night, often after extensive exercise during the day, but never during the physical stress itself.
  • The pain can not be localized exactly, mainly affecting the long bones (eg lower or thigh), rarely the joints.
  • The pain wanders or changes sides.
  • The duration of pain varies between a few minutes and an hour.

Source: after Dr. med. Martin Lang, Pediatrician, Augsburg

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