No firm evidence exists to show that growth of bones causes pain, and so a child is not actually feeling the bones grow. Instead, the pain is probably due to the strain caused by vigorous daytime activities on growing muscles and bones. These pains should disappear by the time she is a teenager. The pains can occur after a child has had a particularly athletic day.


Although growing pains often strike in late afternoon or early evening before bed, there are occasions when pain can wake a slumbering child. The intensity of the pain varies from child to child, and most kids do not experience the pains every day.

Growing pains usually last for 30 minutes to an hour as the child is going to sleep, and they always affect both sides of the body the same way. The pain is usually deep in the muscles of the calves and thighs, or sometimes behind the knees. Growing pains are often intermittent, coming once a week or even more infrequently, and always appear in the muscles rather than the joints. While joints affected by more serious diseases are swollen, red, or warm, the joints of children experiencing growing pains appear normal.

One important difference between growing pains and other diseases is that children in pain due to a serious medical disease do not like to be handled, whereas children with growing pains feel better when they are held, massaged, and cuddled.

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