What are the common causes of aches and pains in kids?

If your child complains of leg or body pain, you might think it’s an injury but there could be a number of other reasons. Treating most of these is easily done at home with things you’ll have at hand. If you’re at all worried about your child’s pain or an injury, you should contact your doctor. Here are some tips about a few common reasons why children may experience aches and pains.

Growing Pains

Growing pains are common in children up to the age of 12 years and can come and go over the space of months or even years. It’s not known exactly what causes them but it’s not growing and it’s not a sign of anything serious. Growing pains can also run in families. Your child may have growing pains if they complain of:

  • Aching or throbbing in both their legs
  • Pain in their muscles but not their joints
  • Pain in the evening or at night-time, that goes away by morning

Growing pains are common in children:

  • Who are active
  • After playing lots of sport
  • Who have flexible joints (double jointed)

How to relieve your child’s growing pains:

  • give them a warm bath before bedtime
  • gently massage their legs
  • put a covered hot bottle (or heat pack) on the painful area
  • give them medicines to help ease the pain, such as kids paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • give them cuddles and reassurance

Remember, contact your doctor if:

  • the pain is only in one leg
  • the pain carries on the next morning
  • the pain is bad enough to stop your child from walking or make them limp
  • the pain is in a joint, such as the knees or ankles
  • there's a rash, swelling or unusual bruising on the legs
  • your child has a high temperature
  • your child does not want to eat or is losing weight

This is not an exhaustive list. For all health matters please speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Bumps, bruises and scrapes

Play is an important part of exploring and learning, so it’s not uncommon for children to injure themselves while playing. Falling over onto their knees, falling off furniture, play equipment, or simply bumping into each other, can be an everyday occurrence. Most bumps or scrapes need no more than a cuddle to help make them feel better. On the other hand, if your child has had a fall, check them for injuries and treat the bumps, bruises or scrapes appropriately. 

How to care for your child’s bumps, bruises or scrapes

Although most minor bumps and bruises are usually not serious, it’s a good idea to have a basic first aid kit at home, for taking care of minor injuries.

Here are a few things that you can do in your home, to help treat your child’s minor injuries:

  • Cuts – if it’s bleeding, press firmly with a clean cloth or with your fingers if there is no towel available. If there is an object in the wound, press around the object. Keep pressing until the bleeding stops (this may take 10 minutes or more). Don’t tie anything tightly around the wound, and if possible raise the limb to help stop the bleeding. Put a clean dressing on the cut.
  • Bumps or bruises – if the bump looks like it will swell, soak a cloth in cold water or use an ice pack held against the injury for a few minutes. Don’t put ice directly on their skin.
  • If your child is in pain, you can give them a kids painkiller that contains paracetamol or ibuprofen like Nurofen for Children.

Remember, contact your doctor immediately or go to A&E, if:

  • a cut does not stop bleeding or is gaping open
  • your child cannot use a leg or arm after an injury
  • you think there is something inside the cut, such as a piece of glass
  • your child has a bump to the head that looks serious or if symptoms worsen
  • your child is under a year old and has a bump to the head

This is not an exhaustive list. For all health matters speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

How does ibuprofen help relieve children's pain?

Ibuprofen has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to relieve pain and also combats fever. It is commonly used for symptoms of colds and flu, teething, fever, sprains and growing pain in kids. Nurofen for Children, which contains ibuprofen, is suitable for little ones from 3 months and weighing over 5 kg, comes in two flavours and provides up to 8 hours of pain relief.

What should I keep in a basic first aid kit?

Basic first aid kits may contain various items, but the things that you may find most useful are:

  • Plasters in different sizes, as well as sterile gauze
  • Triangular and crepe-rolled bandages
  • Safety pins, scissors and tape
  • Sterile gloves and tweezers
  • Cleansing wipes (alcohol-free), distilled water for cleaning cuts
  • Antiseptic cream
  • 2 sterile eye dressings, eye wash and eye bath
  • A digital thermometer
  • Creams or sprays for rashes and insect bites or stings
  • Antihistamine
  • Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (particularly kids' painkillers)

Keep the first aid kit locked and stored in a cool dry place, out of reach of your children. You can also find information online, or speak to a healthcare professional about what to keep in the first aid kit. It’s also helpful to take a basic first aid course. Being safe and prepared will go a long way to giving you peace of mind when you have active little ones in the household.