When Are Growing Pains More Than Growing Pains?

If your child often complains that his or her legs hurt, you may chalk these reports up to growing pains -- the muscle twinges and aches that seem to plague all growing children at some point or another. While there are a number of innocuous reasons for leg pain, there are also a few rare but very serious diseases that can also manifest as mild leg pain, and being aware of the symptoms of these ailments and knowing when to seek medical attention can be crucial. here are times when these "growing pains" may merit more urgent medical attention.

What are some harmless causes of juvenile leg pain?

Although there's no evidence that growing causes pain in itself, the sheer number of parents who report these growing pains on their kids' behalf (as well as adults who remember this leg pain from their younger years) make growing pains a real phenomenon. Muscle aches can also be caused by strenuous exercise, dehydration (resulting in an extra build-up of lactic acid in the muscles), and deep bruising that doesn't leave a surface mark. In most cases, unless leg pain is severe or lasts more than a few weeks, it's nothing to get too worried about. 

When may leg pain merit a visit to the doctor?

If your child is unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time or has regressed in his or her toilet training, you may want to visit an urgent care facility to rule out the odds of a rare but serious virus like Guillain-Barre or a tick-borne illness like Lyme Disease. Both these ailments can affect the nervous system, causing pain and symptoms like temporary paralysis, and the prognosis of a full recovery goes up exponentially the sooner treatment can begin. Ruling out these ailments (or starting treatment if one is diagnosed) should be your first step when dealing with more than just minor complaints.

You'll also want to make an appointment with your child's pediatrician if his or her leg pain, although not severe, is complained of for more than a few weeks and doesn't have any known cause. Certain types of juvenile cancers and blood disorders can manifest in bone pain, and -- like Lyme Disease -- are much more effectively treated when treatment can begin quickly. Even if one of these serious illnesses isn't found, you'll likely be farther on your way toward answering the question of what's causing your child's pain. 

For more information, talk to a professional like Walton Family Medicine PC.