Growing pains are a benign condition that causes leg pain in children. The cause is unknown and, usually, the pains are not severe and go away on their own. If your child has persistent pain, especially with other symptoms, they should be evaluated for more serious conditions.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies severe enough to cause symptoms are fairly uncommon in children who are not dealing with food insecurities. Issues with inadequate nutrition are more likely to occur in picky eaters. These children may exhibit a strong aversion to various foods and may have a limited number of foods they find acceptable. Sometimes bone and joint pain can be caused by insufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D or trace minerals responsible for bone growth. Your pediatrician can run tests to determine if nutrient deficiencies might the underlying cause of pain.

Parents with picky eaters will likely face significant challenges trying to supplement their child's diet if a deficiency is the problem. Some children will readily accept supplements if they are sweet gummies, but as a parent, you must keep these supplements out of their reach, otherwise there is a risk of them overdosing. Smoothies or fortified juices might be another acceptable option for some children. Liquid supplements might be easier to mask in their favorite foods.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for a foreign substance and attacks these healthy cells. There are many types of autoimmune diseases, but two common ones that can present as bone and joint pain are lupus and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Autoimmune diseases usually have additional symptoms, such as fatigue and fever. It is easy to confuse these symptoms with the flu in the beginning, but eventually, symptoms persist longer than would be expected with the flu, or these symptoms may come and go in flare-ups. In most instances, autoimmune diseases can be detected with specific blood tests, such as the anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) or rheumatoid factor (RF) tests. There is still a significant percentage of children that may test negative but continue to have symptoms of an autoimmune disease.


Less commonly, bone and joint pain can be an indication of some childhood cancers. For example, certain forms of leukemia and sarcoma are more common in children. Leukemia can be diagnosed with a blood test. In children with leukemia, a complete blood count (CBC) will show abnormally high white blood cells. If the CBC is abnormal, bone marrow testing will be necessary to formally diagnose the problem. Sarcoma may be suspected if there is an abnormal bone of soft tissue mass on the X-rays. If a mass is found, additional testing will be necessary to determine if the mass is benign or malignant. This is usually done with a biopsy of the mass. Although some types of cancer disproportionately affect children, childhood cancers are relatively rare.

Although growing pains are common in children, there are instances when these pains can raise red flags about other conditions. If your child has ongoing pain, especially severe pain with other symptoms, it is imperative to visit your pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis. Contact a company, such as Better Foot Care LLC, for more information.