Joint flexibility is the most common cause of musculoskeletal pain in children and is often responsible for what is known as “growing pains.”
Still, it can be just as hard on mom and dad as it is on their child to see her in tears from achy ankles or throbbing knees. The good news is there are many ways to manage this pain.
- Massaging and rubbing sore legs helps to soothe the discomfort.
- Strengthening exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist can help. Strengthening the muscles that support the joints provides protection for the joints.
- A physical therapist can help the child if he or she has flat feet, a condition wherein the ankles turn inward and flatten the arch in the foot. This can put stress on ankles, knees and legs of children who are flexible. Children with flat feet also can wear shoes with better arch support or orthotic inserts to help correct the turning inward of the feet.
- Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help, but in many cases they have no effect.
Growing pains are normal, but parents should also ensure that the pain isn’t accompanied by swelling, fever, injury or any other more severe symptoms. If it is, the hurt may be more than a growing pain.
“If the pain is frequent or interfering with activities, then it’s time to evaluate if the pediatrician should be called,” Dr. Shulman says. “We’re available to help the pediatrician. Certainly if arthritis is suspected, we want to be involved.”