Though the name is misleading, growing pains have been a known medical phenomenon in kids for 200 years. Here’s what parents should know about diagnosing and treating the mysterious ailment.


“It’s just growing pains.” I am sure most of you have either heard or used that phrase? And in case you’re wondering, growing pains are a real thing — though the term itself is a misnomer.

Growing pains occur in nearly one out of four children. While the medical world still doesn’t know what triggers them, physicians have honed in on some possible causes and helpful treatments. They’ve also highlighted some misconceptions about these pangs of youth.

The Origin of ‘Growing Pains’

The term first appeared in medical literature nearly 200 years ago, when a French physician, Marcel Duchamp (not the French-American artist), named this common syndrome in kids. His description of recurrent leg pains in children was included in his book, Maladies de la Croissance,or “diseases of growth,” in 1823.

His description of recurrent leg pain in children is consistent with what many doctors and parents still hear today, particularly from kids between the ages of 2 and 12. But research has failed to connect these pains to periods of sudden, rapid growth, as you might expect from the name.

Thus, “growing pains” persists in our vocabularies.

What’s Actually Happening?

The temporary aches or throbs typically occur in the legs- especially near the shins and calves or behind the knees or thighs. They also seem to strike at night and after excessive activity.

Tips for Parents

Growing pains should be assessed by a Podiatrist. An episode of growing pains can range from mild to severe, often includes both legs and typically lasts between 10 and 30 minutes (and sometimes more than an hour).

A key thing to assess is whether your child has issues beyond isolated pain in the legs. Red flags that could signal something other than growing pains: limping, avoidance of daily activities or other signs of illness, such as a fever. Instances of pain also should not be regularly waking a child at night.

For home remedies during growing pains flare-ups, gentle stretching of the muscles, applying heat to relax the muscles and gently massaging the area.

At Resonance Step + Stride Podiatry we are here to help if you are concerned about your child.

Call us today.

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