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|When to Call Your Doctor|
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
|Parent Care at Home If|
|HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MUSCLE CRAMPS, STRAINS, GROWING PAINS|
- Treatment For Muscle Cramps:
- Muscle cramps in the feet or calf muscles occur in a third of children.
- During attacks, stretch the painful muscle by pulling the foot and toes upward as far as they will go to break the spasm.
- Stretch the muscle in the direction opposite to how it is being pulled by the cramp or spasm.
- Apply a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth to the painful muscle for 20 minutes.
- If these are heat cramps (occurring during exercise on a hot day), give lots of water and sports drink in addition to stretching the muscle and a cold pack.
- Future attacks may be prevented by daily stretching exercises of the heel cords (stand with the knees straight and stretch the ankles by leaning forward against a wall). Also give the feet more room to move at night by placing a pillow under the covers at the foot of the bed. Also be sure your child gets enough calcium in the diet.
- Treatment For Strained Muscles From Excessive Use (Overuse Injury):
- Apply a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth to the sore muscles for 20 minutes several times on the first 2 days.
- Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief.
- If stiffness persists over 48 hours, have your child relax in a hot bath for 20 minutes twice a day, and gently exercise the involved part under water.
- Treatment for Growing Pains:
- Usually the pains are mild, don't last long and no treatment is necessary.
- Massage of the sore muscles can help the pain go away.
- Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen if the pain lasts more than 30 minutes.
- Prevention: Research has show that daily stretching exercises can prevent most growing pains.
- Expected Course:
- Muscle cramps usually last 5 to 30 minutes.
- Once they resolve, the muscle returns to normal quickly.
- A strained muscle hurts for 3 to 7 days. The pain often peaks on day 2.
- Following severe overuse, the pain may last a week.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Muscle cramps occur more frequently
- Child develops a fever, limp, or a swollen joint
- Pain caused by work or exercise persists over 7 days
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended 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.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.