Leg Pain

Disponible En Espanol


Definition:

  • Pain in the legs
  • Includes hip, knee, ankle and toe joints
  • Includes minor muscle strain from overuse
  • The pain is not caused by an injury

Causes

  • Main Causes. Muscle spasms (cramps) and strained muscles (overuse) account for most leg pain.
  • Muscle Cramps. Brief pains (1 to 15 minutes) are often due to muscle spasms (cramps).  Foot or calf muscles are especially prone to cramps that occur during sports. Foot or leg cramps may also awaken your child from sleep. Muscle cramps that occur during hard work or sports are called heat cramps.  They often respond to extra fluids and salt.
  • Muscle Overuse (Strained Muscles). Constant leg pains are often from hard work or sports. Examples are running or jumping too much. This type of pain can last several hours or up to 7 days. Muscle pain can also be from a forgotten injury that occurred the day before.
  • Growing Pains. 10% of healthy children have harmless leg pains that come and go. These are often called growing pains (although they have nothing to do with growth). Growing pains usually occur in the calf or thigh muscles.  They usually occur on both sides, not one side.  They occur late in the day. Most likely, they are due to running or playing hard.  They usually last 10 to 30 minutes.
  • Viral Infections. Muscle aches in both legs are common with viral illness, especially influenza.
  • Serious Causes. Fractures, deep vein thrombosis, neuritis (nerve infection) and arthritis (joint infection). Septic arthritis (a bacterial infection of any joint space) is a medical emergency.  The symptoms are severe joint pain, joint stiffness and a high fever.  Toxic synovitis of the hip is a harmless condition. It can imitate a septic arthritis of the hip.  The symptoms are a limp, moderate pain and usually no fever.  Toxic synovitis tends to occur in toddlers after jumping too much.

Pain Scale

  • Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities.  It may wake him or her up from sleep.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

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