When your child wakes up at night complaining about cramps in their legs, you likely typically send them back to bed and reassure them it's just growing pains. And indeed, these aches and pains are pretty normal and quite common in childhood. Sometimes, though, aches and cramps that resemble growing pains may actually be a sign of something more sinister — a condition that warrants attention from the pediatrician. How do you know the difference? Here are some indicators you should take your child to the doctor for growing-pain-like pains. 

Your child's pains last into the day.

Growing pains typically occur at night. They may start in the evening as your child is going to bed, or they may start in the middle of the night, disturbing your child's deep sleep. Either way, though, they are typically gone by the morning. If your child is still in pain when they get up in the morning, something else may be going on, so you should have the pediatrician take a look.

Your child is limping or having trouble walking.

Growing pains should not be bad enough to affect your child's gait. If the pains are causing your child to limp or are so bad that your child does not want to walk, your child could actually be suffering from a bone disease or muscular disorder, rather than simple growing pains. 

Your child has a fever.

If your child's leg cramps and pains are accompanied by a fever, then this could be a sign of a more serious illness such as a strep infection or rheumatic fever. You may not think to take your child's temperature when they complain about cramps and aches, but if they have a red face, appear flushed overall, or complain that they're feeling overly hot or cold, these are all signs of fever.

Your child feels weak or tired.

It's not unusual for a child to be a little extra tired the day after being awoken by growing pains at night. However, if they seem to be overly tired or weak for days on end, this could be an indicator of a bigger problem, such as an infection or autoimmune disease.

While some growing pains are normal, parents do sometimes pass off more serious issues as growing pains. If you notice any of the above signs or have any reason to suspect what your child is experiencing is outside of the norm, don't hesitate to see the pediatrician.

For more information about pediatric care, contact a local clinic.