Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Font Size

Growing Pains: When Should Parents Worry?

Is it growing pains or something worse such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?

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."

1|2
Edited by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 28, 2005

Today on WebMD

fish oil capsule
Article
senior woman holding green apple
Article
 
young women in yoga class
Video
Man with knee brace
Article
 
Lucille Ball
Slideshow
Hand bones X-ray
Article
 
prescription pills
Article
Woman massaging her neck
Quiz
 
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Slideshow
Woman rubbing shoulder
Slideshow
 
Working out with light weights
Video
arthritis
Article