What is leg pain in children?

Leg pain in children may be caused by a number of different injuries or conditions. Traumatic causes, such as bruises, sprains and strains, and broken bones are very common in children. Less commonly, chronic diseases such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can cause leg pain that may be concentrated in the joints.

Leg pain in children is also frequently described as “growing pains.” Although there is no scientific proof that the growth of bones causes pain, it is well known that children sometimes experience leg pain, often at night, for no obvious reason. These nonspecific types of pain are localized to the muscles and improve when the area is massaged, in contrast to chronic joint pain or true bone pain, which may worsen when the child is moved. Growing pains are believed to be a form of overuse injury or a response to the normal strains and stresses of active play. However, any child who is having disturbing episodes of pain should be evaluated to make sure there is not a disease or injury that is responsible for the symptoms.

Infections are also known to cause leg pain in children. Abscesses and cellulitis (infection of the skin and surrounding tissues) can cause pain that may be accompanied by drainage of pus, redness, warmth of the skin, or fever. Osteomyelitis (bone infection) is a rare and more serious condition.

Joint pain can be due to injury to the joint or to arthritis of the joint. In these cases, the pain may be accompanied by swelling, redness or warmth, and tenderness of the involved area. In very rare cases, benign or malignant tumors of bone or the surrounding soft tissues can cause leg pain.

Leg pain in children may be associated with an injury or a serious infection. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms such as paralysis, loss of sensation, absent pulses in the feet, the inability to move the knee joint, uncontrolled or heavy bleeding, high fever (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), or uncontrollable pain.

If leg pain in children persists or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with leg pain in children?

Leg pain in children may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that are known to cause leg pain in children may also involve other body systems.

Leg symptoms that may occur along with leg pain in children

Leg pain in children may accompany other symptoms affecting the leg including:


What causes leg pain in children?

Leg pain in children can be a nonspecific response to everyday activities, often called “growing pains.” Other traumatic causes may produce more severe pain. Infections, inflammatory conditions, and, very rarely, tumors, are other causes of leg pain in children.

Common causes of leg pain in children

Leg pain in children may be felt in the muscles, particularly after a l... Read more about leg pain in childrencauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

What's Causing Your Symptoms?