Growing pains

Growing pains is a term used for leg pain that is common in children aged 3 to 12. It's harmless and usually gets better on its own. The pain can be treated with painkillers like paracetamol.

Check if it's growing pains

The symptoms of growing pains can come and go over months, even years.

The pain is usually:

  • an aching or throbbing in both legs
  • in the muscles, not the joints
  • in the evening or night-time (and goes away by morning)

Things you can do to ease growing pains


  • gently massage your child's legs

  • put a covered hot water bottle or heat pack on the painful area

  • give children's ibuprofen or paracetamol to ease the pain

Things you can do to ease growing pains


  • do not give aspirin to a child under the age of 16 unless a doctor prescribes it

See a GP if your child:

  • has pain in 1 leg
  • has leg pain in the morning, or when walking or taking part in activities
  • has leg pain that’s bad enough to stop them walking or makes them limp
  • has pain in a joint, such as their knees or ankles
  • has a rash, swelling or unusual bruising on the legs
  • has leg pain and a high temperature
  • feels unusually tired or sleepy a lot of the time
  • does not want to eat or is losing weight

Causes of growing pains

It's not known what causes growing pains.

They are not caused by growing and they are not a sign of anything serious.

Growing pains are more common in active children and can happen after playing lots of sport.

They are also common in children with very flexible joints (joint hypermobility syndrome)