Growing pains is a term often used to describe leg pain (that has no obvious cause) in children that usually starts in the late afternoon or early evening, can occur in the night, and is usually gone by morning. Growing pains are often described as an ache or throb in the legs occurring usually in the front of the thighs, the calves, or behind the knees. Generally both legs will be affected, and sometimes children will experience abdominal pain or headaches along with the leg pain.
Growing pains are most common from ages 2-12, typically end by the teen years, and are slightly more common in girls than in boys. As for the cause of growing pains, there is no evidence that a child’s growth is actually painful. Health professionals believe that physical activity during the day, such as running, climbing, or jumping, contributes to leg pain at night because of the impact of the physical activity on the musculoskeletal system.
There are self-care steps that can be taken when it comes to growing pains that a doctor can advise a parent on. However, a doctor should definitely be consulted if the pain is persistent, still present in the morning, severe enough to interfere with normal activities, located in the joints, associated with an injury, or accompanied by other symptoms (such as swelling, redness, tenderness, fever, limping, rash, loss of appetite, weakness, or fatigue).
Given that you are still experiencing pain at the age of 18, and that you are experiencing pain in your feet and hands (less common with typical growing pains), FX thinks that it is important for you to meet with your doctor. Your doctor needs to get a better understanding of what you are experiencing: Is this a sharp pain, dull pain, and/or is there any numbness or tingling involved? How often and for how many years have you experienced these symptoms? Have you ever spoken to a doctor in the past about this issue or received any kind of diagnosis? FX cannot give any kind of accurate diagnosis over the web, so you do need to meet with a doctor who can perform a thorough examination, form an accurate diagnosis, and offer any necessary treatment.
If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.