“Growing Pains”: Clinical and Behavioral Correlates in a Community Sample

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ABSTRACTSParents of 183 children identified them as having “pain in arms, legs, or joints during the previous 12 months.” This group was compared with a group of children without pains selected randomly from the rest of a 1605-member community-based cohort in a study of chronic illness. The pains were most likely to be deep seated, to involve predominantly the lower limbs, and to be described in vague, nonspecific terms. These children were significantly more likely to have recurrent abdominal pain, a negative mood, and behavior problems, and to be aggressive, anxious, and hyperactive. There were no differences between the groups on any teacher ratings of behavior, temperament, social skills, or academic achievement. We conclude that children with “growing pains” are rated by their parents, but not their teachers, as having different temperamental and behavioral profiles than controls. These data suggest a psychosocial contribution to growing pains akin to that seen with other pain syndromes.

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