Q: My 9-year-old has been waking up during the night complaining of “achy” legs. I suspect they’re growing pains, but I don’t get what causes them. Is it related to his level of activity during the day?
A: That does indeed sound like growing pains, which are most common in preteens and toddlers. There are many theories about what causes them, but no one really knows! The pain usually occurs at night, and will affect both legs — usually the shins, although your child may not be able to pinpoint the area.
It is often worse after a day of increased activity. Try warm water bottles on his legs, and if that doesn’t work, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If symptoms include limping, swelling, rash, tenderness or pain affecting one leg only, consult your paediatrician.