ZocdocAnswersWhat are growing pains?

Question

What are growing pains?

I know it's sort of a joke for people, but my teenage sister has 'growing pains' (so my parents call it) in her legs that keep her awake at night. I just don't understand what's happening medically. Are growing pains a real thing, or is that just a 'folk name' for other problems?

Answer

Growing pains are a common complaint in children. They are more common in girls than boys, and they are most common in the middle school years. By the time children are 12 most no longer have growing pains. Most children describe the pains as an aching sensation in the legs. They usually occur in the afternoon or evenings and can awaken children from sleep occasionally. There is no clear cause of growing pains, but they may be linked to stress or to vigorous physical activity. The fact that your sister is a teenager and is still having these pains suggests that it probably needs to be checked out to make sure that there is not something else going on. Other symptoms that would be concerning would be joint pain or swelling or if the pain is severe enough to interfere with her activities. As always the diagnosis and the management of your sister's particular condition will require a physical examination by her personal physician. Setting up an office visit with her pediatrician might be advised.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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