Could leg pains be something serious?

03/16/2010 12:00 PM

11/18/2010 12:10 PM

Q. My 8-year-old son has been complaining of leg pain on and off for a month. How do I know if this is “growing pains” or something more serious?

Leg pains are relatively common in children and are usually nothing to worry about. However, it could signal a serious illness, so it is important to know when to take your child’s aches and pains more seriously. You should seek medical attention if your child’s leg pain has any of the following characteristics:

-- Always occurs in the same spot or in the same leg.

-- Wakes him from sleep at night.

-- Causes him to limp.

-- Involves a joint (e.g. knee or ankle).

-- Redness, swelling or fever are present.

-- Interferes with play.

I

n other words, if your child has occasional aches and pains that vary in location and he is otherwise healthy, it is safe to blame it on “growing pains.”

Recurring strep throat

Q: Since starting kindergarten, my 6 year-old has had strep throat three times. Is it time to take her tonsils out? What can we do to prevent strep?

Years ago, tonsillectomies were a much more common procedure than they are today. After much research, ENT surgeons have developed (and continue to develop) guidelines to help ensure that the benefits of the procedure will outweigh its risks.

According to current recommendations, a child would need to have five to seven episodes of pharyngitis (sore throat) in a year to meet the criteria for tonsillectomy.

There are exceptions to this, such as a history of tonsillar abscess or chronically enlarged tonsils that are causing airway obstruction during sleep.

If your child has a history of recurrent pharyngitis, it is important to discuss your concerns with your child’s health care provider so that he or she can investigate whether your child is a strep carrier. It is also important that you change your child’s toothbrush once the illness is treated. The best way to prevent strep is hand-washing and not drinking after others.

Dr. Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic and president of the Charlotte Pediatric Society. She blogs for MomsCharlotte.com. E-mail questions to living@charlotteobserver.com and put “pediatrician” in the subject line, or leave questions on her blog.

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