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Growing Pains: When Should Parents Worry?

Morning pain may mean something more serious is wrong with your child.

Arthritis Often Missed continued...

In the worst cases, the length of the child's leg can be affected. That happens when inflammation in an untreated joint increases blood flow in that joint, he explains. "With that increased blood flow, the bone will grow bigger. One leg will actually be longer than the other. It can affect walking, [and] cause hip and back problems."

"The whole key is to understand what growing pains are, and what they aren't," says Lehman. "A child with growing pains will have no daytime pain, no limp, no other abnormality. But when the child gets pain during the day -- and the pains are persistent or abnormally severe -- the child needs to see a doctor."

Often, children with JRA are mistakenly sent to an orthopaedic surgeon, Vogler tells WebMD. "If the pain is misinterpreted as a hairline fracture, the child gets a cast. With JRA, immobilizing the joint is counterproductive. The treatment should involve anti-inflammatory medications and working on regaining lost range of motion."

For most kids, getting spoiled by late-night attention is the biggest problem with true growing pains, Vogler explains. "The growing pains take on a life of their own. Children find out that crying at night gets mom's attention, and it becomes positive reinforcement. Parents need to be aware that most kids with growing pains don't have them every single night. It's fine to reassure, but don't overindulge."

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