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Growing Pains

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Growing Pains


Growing pains are harmless pains in a child's limbs.


Growing pains do not happen from growing. The exact cause is not known. Things that may play a role are:

  • Excess physical activity
  • Lower pain threshold
  • Low bone strength
  • Loose joints

Risk Factors

Growing pains are more common in children who are 4 to 14 years of age.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

Rapid growth does not raise the risk of this problem.


Growing pains often happen in both sides of the thighs, calves, or behind the knees. Some children may also have pain on one side or in the upper limbs.

The pain will come and go but often lasts 30 minutes to 2 hours. It often happens at night. This may cause problems sleeping.

The Knee.

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The doctor will ask about the child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.


Growing pains will go away with time. Home care may help. Choices are:

  • Over the counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen
  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Warm packs


There are no known ways to prevent growing pains.





  • Growing pains are normal most of the time. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/orthopedic/Pages/Growing-Pains-Are-Normal-Most-Of-The-Time.aspx.
  • Growing pains. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/growing-pains.
  • Growing pains. Nemours KidsHealth website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/growing-pains.html.
  • Mohanta, MP. Growing pains: practitioners' dilemma. Indian Pediatrics, 2014; 51 (5): 379-383.


  • Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.