As you might well remember from your own childhood, growing pains can be crippling.
Have you ever hit the gym only to find yourself incredibly sore the next day?
If you watch your little ones play, and how fast they grow, it’s no wonder they occasionally (or perhaps quite often) complain of aches and pains.
Children grow at a pretty amazing rate. Their muscles develop with each new skill (crawling, walking, skipping and jumping) and sometimes they gain inches in height, in what seems like overnight!
Growing pains in children tend to cluster at around 3 to 4 years of age, and again at 8 to 12 years of age.
Night time parenting can be challenging enough when there are no aches and pains, especially when your child is so little.
But when growing pains hit, it can make for some long and sleepless nights.
So what can you do to help soothe your child’s pain?
You might not want to use pain medication frequently, but neither do you want your little one to be in pain.
What options do you have?
Growing Pains – 9 Ways To Help Ease The Pain
Here are 9 effective relief options for growing pains:
#1: Reduce Grains, Beans and Sugar In Their Diet
Most of us are familiar with the food pyramid – however it’s not without its flaws.
One of the biggest flaws is the excessive servings of grains (corn is a grain too, not a vegetable!), which is what farmers use to fatten their livestock.
Something contained in plant products which may make growing pains worse is phytic acid.
Phytic acid binds minerals in the digestive tract, which makes it difficult for the body to utilise those minerals.
Unfortunately, the minerals it binds are some really important ones: iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc.
Magnesium is really important to help avoid growing pains.
Wholegrains, nuts and soybeans are the worst phytic acid offenders.
However phytic acid can be found in plenty of plant products.
Don’t panic – just assess your child’s diet and reduce the worst sources.
Look into paleo or low carb eating, which is anti-inflammation.
Sugar also causes inflammation, so be sure to cut back sugar as much as possible too.
Here are 13 healthy breakfast ideas.
#2: Epsom Salt/Magnesium Flake Baths
We know Epsom salt has a variety of fantastic benefits, including during pregnancy. It also has benefits for children.
Epsom salt can help soothe aching muscles, bones and joints. It contains magnesium, which is an important mineral for human health.
We can get magnesium from food sources, such as leafy greens and nuts, but it can also be absorbed effectively (and perhaps even more so) by the skin.
Add 1-1.5 cups of Epsom salt into a standard bath size and have your child soak for at least 15 minutes.
A warm bath before bed can soothe your child into a restful sleep. If your child has a bad attack of growing pains overnight, a warm bath (with or without Epsom salt) can quickly soothe him.
If you don’t have a bath in your home, you could buy a small tub or something else in which to submerge your child’s lower body. You can also purchase magnesium oil spray to rub into his legs.
Adding more magnesium into your child’s diet, and giving Epsom salt baths, can help relieve overall aches and pains, and it might even help him sleep more soundly!
#3: Regular Chiropractic Care
If you watch your little ones running outside and playing monkey on the playground, it’s no surprise they sometimes end up with a few misalignments.
If something is out of alignment, it can also affect the nerves.
When our frame is out of alignment, everything can feel a bit worse.
Getting regular chiropractic care for your child, from a skilled paediatric chiropractor, might relieve, or better yet prevent, growing pains.
#4: Acupuncture Treatment
You might not associate acupuncture with paediatric care, nor with reliving growing pains.
But acupuncture is growing in popularity, and has been proven to be effective for treating pain in children.
While you might squirm at the idea of needles, the tiny needles used usually cause no pain. It’s also possible to have laser acupuncture, which is commonly used on children.
If this method appeals to you, ring around for an acupuncture clinic that uses laser acupuncture machines for children.
Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 3,000 years.
In one paediatric study, conducted by an anaesthesiologist, patients reported pain levels went from 8 out of 10, prior to treatment, to 3 out of 10, post treatment.
Another study found 70% of paediatric patients involved in the study experienced pain relief from acupuncture.
#5: Adequate Electrolyte Intake
It’s not unusual for children to be so busy they forget to drink enough. And most likely, if they’re too busy playing to drink, they’re also being very physically active.
When your electrolytes aren’t balanced properly you can experience muscle cramping. If you’re also experiencing rapid growth, these extra cramps can feel unbearable.
Typically, water is the best way to stay hydrated. However, kids can run off quite a bit of energy, so electrolytes might help.
If you want to give electrolyte drinks to your children, be sure to choose those with healthy ingredients.
Avoid heavily sweetened beverages, especially those with artificial sweeteners, and avoid artificial dyes.
You should avoid sports drinks, but many health food stores sell powdered products that you simply add to water.
In Australia, one such product is called Endura from Metagenics. Check to make sure the product and dosages are appropriate for your child’s age.
#6: Drink More Water
As mentioned, water is the best way to stay hydrated. When children are very active or ill, electrolyte beverages can be an important part of keeping them hydrated.
However, for everyday wellness, it’s important they drink plenty of water.
Staying hydrated reduces muscle cramping, helps their bodies to function optimally and creates a feeling of overall wellness.
When they’re dehydrated, they feel generally awful, which can make any ache or pain feel much worse.
#7: Heat Packs
Heat can be quite soothing for aches and pains. If you’re child isn’t settling well, a heat pack might bring some much needed relief and comfort.
Tight and aching muscles tend to relax when a little heat is applied. Heat can also relieve tension.
It isn’t uncommon to tense up much of your body when you feel pain and this can make the pain worse.
Just be sure not to set the heat too high, and keep a cloth barrier between the heat pack and the skin for the best result.
#8: Medical Pain Relief
While many of us prefer to limit the amount of medical pain relief we give our children, sometimes there’s a place for medicine in keeping our kids comfortable.
When we experience pain, our bodies often respond with some inflammation. Pain relievers, such as NSAIDs, can help reduce inflammation.
Resorting to medical pain relief when other things aren’t bringing relief might reduce the inflammation enough for non-medical options to be more effective.
And of course, it can give your child a break from pain and allow him to sleep.
Be sure to use this sparingly, as research has been strengthening for ibuprofen (and other anti-inflammatory medication) to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
#9: Natural Pain Relief Supplements
While they might take some time to be effective, there are many homeopathic and other natural remedies to help soothe growing pains.
Pharmacies and health stores stock natural sprays, rubs and oral options, which are especially designed for leg cramps and restless legs.
As usual, check to make sure the product is suitable for your child’s age.
If you’re uncertain about which remedies are best for your little one, a naturopath or herbalist should be able to help you navigate your options.
Arnica is a common, natural, over-the-counter remedy used for a variety of aches, pains and inflammation.
Few things are more challenging than dealing with children in pain. You want to help them feel better, and you all look forward to more sleep. Taking preventative measures, such as chiropractic care and hydration, can lower the chance of your child experiencing growing pains. But if they still pop up, you have lots of other effective options.