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What are some possible causes of leg pain in a child?


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My 9 yo has complained of leg pain off and on for a long time. I tell her it's probably growing pains. I've mentioned it to the doctor, but it's never seemed to be intense enough to pursue any expensive testing.

 

However.... we went to a movie this afternoon. When we came out, she was complaining that her legs hurt. We had to stop at the grocery store for a few things, and dh had to carry her because it hurt so bad to walk. Since we got home, it's gotten worse. We gave her tylenol, but it is not helping. She said it feels like her legs are swollen, but they don't appear to be swollen and she doesn't have a fever. The pain was in her shins, but has spread to above the knees too.

 

Any suggestions on possible causes?

Any suggestions on how to keep her comfortable until we can get a dr appt?

 

Thanks!

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Guest janainaz

It sounds like growing pains, but I am unaware of other potential causes of leg pain like that. My boys complain about leg pain and I know it must be during a growing spurt. It might last for a couple of days and then I don't hear about it again for 6 months or so. My ds5 asks me constantly (lately) to pull his legs. I have been meaning to look up or ask anyone if their kids ask them to do that.

 

But I would say it's growing pains....

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It just seems kind of extreme for growing pains. A warm bath (without epsom salts, but I'll get some this week) made it worse. A bag of frozen peas is helping.

 

Dh just measured her and she's grown 1/2 inch since June 21. So maybe it is just growing pains.

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It does seem extreme for growing pains. I know that I had growing pains as a child and even as a teen. It really hurt and the only thing that would take it away was medicine....if I just tried to wait it out, it got continuosly worse. But my leg pain usually happened during the night.

 

DD6 has growing pains sometimes. She does end up in tears sometimes....but as with me, hers is usually at night, or in the morning just after waking up.

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My middle son has Juvenile Arthritis, and with JRA the pain is located in the joints. I would think growing pains, though I don't know other causes. Have you tried elevating her legs with a pillow? My dh used to get growing pains as a kid and this helped him so he has our boys do this when they get growing pains and it seems to help. :grouphug:, I hope you get it figured out and she feels better!

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That does sound a bit extreme for growing pains, however if she is like my dd and grows inches at a time rather than in smaller increments it could be growing pains. My dd outgrows pjs overnight lol.

 

My youngest son had severe leg pains with leukemia (but there are other symptoms too, unexplained fevers, bruising, excessive sleeping, so on), and a friend has a dd that had severe leg pains with arthritis. It could be many things, but I would get her checked out and demand blood work just to be sure it is nothing concerning. Motrin and ice seem to help calm the pain some.

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My daughter saw a rheumatologist for leg pain. She didn't have any swelling and no other obvious symptoms. He asked if she was a leg sitter (he was looking at her while she sat with her legs folded under her). I wasn't sure but he said to keep her from sitting like that because a lot of kids have that kind of pain when they are leg sitters.

 

My BIL had severe growing pains as a child. This is what it sounds like to me. I used to rub my daughters legs with essential oils when she had them. If they got bad enough we would give her Tylenol. That seemed to help.

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Thanks for all the suggestions! It's probably growing pains, but if the pain continues, I'll ask for bloodwork to rule out other possibilities. I talked to one of my sisters who's a nurse last evening, and she asked if she could be dehydrated. It was 101 degrees here yesterday and I'm not sure how much dd drank, so that's also a possibility. I'll be pushing fluids today to see if that helps.

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Does she have flat feet? My dd had a similar problem and doctors told us over and over that it was just growing pains. I took her to a podiatrist and he fit her for orthotic insoles. It turns out that when she is sitting she has beautiful arches, but when she stands or walks her ankle rolls in a little and her arches flatten. The extra rotation in her ankle put lots of strain on her little legs and caused severe growing pain like symptoms.

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Both my daughter and a friend of hers had terrible pain around the knees when middle school aged, somewhere around 5th-8th, can't remember exactly. My daughter's was so painful, we would have to cut down on our family hikes, shopping dates, etc. It went on for probably a year and a half. Her friend had the same thing, although much, much worse. Hers was so painful that her family had to rent a wheel chair for her went they toured NYC! We both took our girls into the dr. about it, and it was some growing syndrome. It had some very official name! The dr. said it would pass eventually, probably when they reached their peak of growing. It really did pass, for both girls, and they never suffered from it again.

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My dd had leg pain in the back of her thighs that started at a time that she was growing like a weed, 8 yo, and caused her to have a tough time walking. After being told by our (previous) pediatricians for months that it was a pulled hamstring, I finally insisted on a referral to an orthopedist who immediately diagnosed a problem in her spine. She needed surgery, but she's feeling great and doing great now. Our experience taught me to trust my gut.

 

A friend's dc had leg pains due to celiac. They went away when they got rid of gluten.

 

I've heard of quite a few dc with leg pains lately.

 

I hope you find some way to keep her comfortable.

 

:grouphug:

Edited by NJKelli
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Dd has severe leg pain every few months or so. It's mostly in her knees and ankles, I think. She insisted that it really hurt her and we ended up giving her Tylenol on several occasions. Pediatrician ordered blood work and x-rays to rule out arthritis, diabetes, etc. Dd even saw an orthopedist and was scheduled for PT! Turns out it was severe growing pains! (It figures. She's very tall and so grows quickly when she has a growth spurt.)

 

I remember my younger brother having leg pain so bad as an 8-10 year old that he stayed in bed for hours at a time -- and he was a very active boy, so that was a biggy. It was growing pain too.

 

If your child is one of those tall/quick growers, I would suggest growing pains, but I would also tell the pediatrician about your concerns.

 

Good luck!

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Just in case it might be useful to someone else, my son had an episode last year of severe leg pain--he spiked a high fever one day, then the next day he started walking on his toes and then he refused to get out of bed at all the third day. He was 2.5 at the time. He was diagnosed with Benign acute childhood myositis. It is an unusual response to a fever and was treated with fluids and motrin for several days.

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Just in case it might be useful to someone else, my son had an episode last year of severe leg pain--he spiked a high fever one day, then the next day he started walking on his toes and then he refused to get out of bed at all the third day. He was 2.5 at the time. He was diagnosed with Benign acute childhood myositis. It is an unusual response to a fever and was treated with fluids and motrin for several days.

 

 

Sorry, I meant to say that it was an unusual response to a virus (not a fever). Off to bed I go!

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Thanks for the additional suggestions - I am tucking them away in case this turns out to be something other than growing pains. While we were out yesterday, we got some children's motrin and that seems to work much better than tylenol.

 

DD is tall and extremely skinny, and I think those kids are more prone to growing pains, but I just didn't realize before reading this thread that growing pains could be that severe.

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I experienced serious growing pains as a young child. I was also very tall and thin (back then :D). They were mostly concentrated in my shins and would hurt so much I'd be in tears. I usually felt them at night, and my mom would run very warm water over my legs and bundle them up in knee socks. That helped a lot.

 

On another note, when ds1 was about 6 he experienced leg pain that was so bad he couldn't walk. But he also had a fever with it. The doc had us take him to the hospital for x-rays and bloodwork. It turned out to be "just" a virus--sorry, can't remember the name. The not being able to walk part was kind of scary, but he got over the virus a few days later.

 

Cinder

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sounds like growing pains.

 

My 5yr dd has constant leg pains and we've had her checked out.

 

I had them TERRIBLE as a child too. Our solution is Absorbine Jr. on the area that is painful and slip a long sock over the area..I cut one end off of one of daddy's socks..this way it's not touching the bedding, sheets or her jammies and it's also warming quicker than wrapping a towel around it and getting caugh all up in her bed through-out the night.

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Didn't read all posts so I may be repeating.

If it persists, definitely see her doctor.

Magnesium deficiency causes leg cramps;

also TOO much calcium can be a cause as

excess Calcium BINDS UP magnesium availability.

Low potassium can be a cause as well.

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Calvin has growing pains centred around shins/knees. The problem, in his case, is that his bones are growing fast and the ligaments are pulling on the joints. I would recommend seeing a doctor just to make sure, but it's probably nothing to worry about.

 

Laura

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Update:

 

My oldest dd had a dr appt this morning. DD with leg pains was wheezing last night, so dh took her to other dd's appt and the dr was able to see them both at the same time. They checked her allergy med dosage and prescribed an inhaler. Dh mentioned leg pains and dr said it's definitely just growing pains since she's grown so much in the past month. I agreed....until later in the day.

 

DD has run a low grade fever all day. She still has leg pains, but her back also hurts and she's had a headache all day. She has ADHD and is normally VERY active, but she has laid around most of the afternoon and evening, and her color does not look quite normal. I talked to my sister in another state who is an outstanding nurse, and she agreed with me that dd should be tested for lyme disease. We have a lot of ticks here and lyme disease is common. Problem is, our dr is conservative (usually a good thing imo), and I'm not sure she will agree to test. But the risks associated with undiagnosed lyme disease are too high to take chances. I hope by morning dd will be her normal bouncy self, but right now I'm really concerned about her.

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I remember this. I used to get that and my wonderful granny used to use rubbing alcohol. She would rub it all over my legs kinda squeezing while she did it and give me one of those childrens aspirin. It always made it feel better. She called them growing pains. I hope your lil girl feels better soon. :grouphug:

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Update:

 

My oldest dd had a dr appt this morning. DD with leg pains was wheezing last night, so dh took her to other dd's appt and the dr was able to see them both at the same time. They checked her allergy med dosage and prescribed an inhaler. Dh mentioned leg pains and dr said it's definitely just growing pains since she's grown so much in the past month. I agreed....until later in the day.

 

DD has run a low grade fever all day. She still has leg pains, but her back also hurts and she's had a headache all day. She has ADHD and is normally VERY active, but she has laid around most of the afternoon and evening, and her color does not look quite normal. I talked to my sister in another state who is an outstanding nurse, and she agreed with me that dd should be tested for lyme disease. We have a lot of ticks here and lyme disease is common. Problem is, our dr is conservative (usually a good thing imo), and I'm not sure she will agree to test. But the risks associated with undiagnosed lyme disease are too high to take chances. I hope by morning dd will be her normal bouncy self, but right now I'm really concerned about her.

 

I hope she feels better soon. :grouphug:

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Update:

 

My oldest dd had a dr appt this morning. DD with leg pains was wheezing last night, so dh took her to other dd's appt and the dr was able to see them both at the same time. They checked her allergy med dosage and prescribed an inhaler. Dh mentioned leg pains and dr said it's definitely just growing pains since she's grown so much in the past month. I agreed....until later in the day.

 

DD has run a low grade fever all day. She still has leg pains, but her back also hurts and she's had a headache all day. She has ADHD and is normally VERY active, but she has laid around most of the afternoon and evening, and her color does not look quite normal. I talked to my sister in another state who is an outstanding nurse, and she agreed with me that dd should be tested for lyme disease. We have a lot of ticks here and lyme disease is common. Problem is, our dr is conservative (usually a good thing imo), and I'm not sure she will agree to test. But the risks associated with undiagnosed lyme disease are too high to take chances. I hope by morning dd will be her normal bouncy self, but right now I'm really concerned about her.

 

I'm sorry your family is going through this. I'll keep you all in my prayers.

 

I've heard of a few children who have experienced unexplained leg pain recently. It only lasted a week or so and the doctors couldn't explain it. One boy ended up in the hospital for a couple of days for tests but nothing was conclusive and he's doing better. Another friend's dd had pains (legs but other weird stuff too) and her doctor was so sure it was Lyme's, so he put her on the long course of antibiotics before the blood test came back. Meanwhile, a few days later, her friend calls and apologizes if they got her daughter sick because right after they visited the week before all of her children came down with a virus. Well, my friend says, my dd doesn't have a virus but she's being treated for Lyme's. It turns out the virus that all of them had the exactly the same symptoms as Lyme's and their doctor said it was going around. Meanwhile, my friend's dd's blood test came back negative for Lyme's. Strange, isn't it?

 

It couldn't hurt to test for Lyme's and I hope your doctor agrees.

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Another update:

DD's temp is a little higher today than yesterday and she added neck pain to her list of complaints. She wanted the heating pad on her back first thing this morning. She has a dr appt for 10 am tomorrow - they couldn't fit her in today.

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I've been through dealing with doctors on the lyme test issue. If you are going to have it done you must make sure to have the Western Blot test done. The ELISA, which is what most doctors will agree to do, is not reliable. Generally, if ELISA comes back positive they will tell you how unreliable the test is and then reassure you that you don't have it. A few will agree to do the test over. If it comes back negative they just tell you you can relax and you don't have it. Many insurance companies will not pay for the Western Blot unless the ELISA is done first. I went through 3 doctors before I found one who knew how to deal with my insurance company and finally had the Western Blot done.

 

I had quite a few symptoms that suggested lyme, but finally found out I did not have it.

 

Shannon

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I've been through dealing with doctors on the lyme test issue. If you are going to have it done you must make sure to have the Western Blot test done. The ELISA, which is what most doctors will agree to do, is not reliable. Generally, if ELISA comes back positive they will tell you how unreliable the test is and then reassure you that you don't have it. A few will agree to do the test over. If it comes back negative they just tell you you can relax and you don't have it. Many insurance companies will not pay for the Western Blot unless the ELISA is done first. I went through 3 doctors before I found one who knew how to deal with my insurance company and finally had the Western Blot done.

 

I had quite a few symptoms that suggested lyme, but finally found out I did not have it.

 

Shannon

 

Thanks - I will ask for the Western Blot and see what happens.

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