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Old 07-13-2008, 07:11 PM   #1
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Help for cramps/muscle spasms in 4 year old?

DJ just turned 4. For quite some time now (2 years?) he has been plagued off and on by leg cramps and muscle spasms mostly during the night. Usually the "charlie horse" is in his calf but occasionally in his thigh. Sometimes, there's not a spasm that I can find but he complains of pain in his thigh or knee or shin (especially when he's been unusually active during the day...which is saying a lot since the kid is a perpetual motion machine!) I do believe that he's really in pain rather than seeking attention or mimicking something he's seen or heard because I have seen him playing and just suddenly fall down holding his leg and crying and he frequently wakes up in the night with a scream telling me that his legs hurt. If there's a cramp I can feel, I usually massage it or try to get him to "walk it off" to make the muscle relax. We also do warm compresses or a warm bath to help the muscle relax and stay relaxed. Sometimes I give him Tylenol to help with the pain. I took him to both the pediatrician and the chiropractor a while back during a period where he was having these pains every day and night and neither one found anything physiologically wrong with him and eventually the pains slacked off for a while.

Over the last week, they've flared back up again. It started last week when his class went on a field trip to a nature preserve. Apparently it was quite a hike and even though he took a water bottle with him, I wouldn't be surprised if he was a bit dehydrated. When they returned and he went down for a nap, he woke up screaming and writhing and he had a visible knot in his thigh. They massaged it and it finally relaxed but throughout the rest of the afternoon, he was off and on crying that his legs hurt. I finally gave him some Motrin and he settled down a bit but woke up during the night again crying that his legs hurt and it's been off and on every day for the past week.

So the catch-all diagnosis is "growing pains" but supposedly there should be no such thing. Growing shouldn't hurt and if it does, something's not right.

I've always been told that Potassium is good for muscle cramps. What else? And other than bananas (which are $.69/lb right now and he eats about 3 bites and says he's done!) what are some easy sources of Potassium for a picky eater? I checked out the children's multivitamins today but none of them list Potassium. Other than heat and massage, what can be done to prevent or treat the cramps when they happen? Any herbs or EOs that could be made into a lotion or something to massage with either as a preventative or as a treatment? They do yoga at his school and especially since he's been having this problem his teacher has been really conscious of having the kids do some stretching before and after playing hard. I know eventually it will subside again but I also know that eventually it will flare up again What am I missing?

BTW, RA runs in our family and my mom and I both have severe chronic leg cramps. His symptoms don't really fit juvenile arthritis though and his doctor is not concerned about that.

THanks for any help!

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Old 07-13-2008, 07:15 PM   #2
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Re: Help for cramps/muscle spasms in 4 year old?

Growing pains are very real. They are the result of muscles that are just a tad too short in relation to the rapidly growing bones and when the child is very, very active and there's lots of stretching going on during the day, it results in cramps and muscle pain at night, i.e growing pains. Maybe a misnomer, but they are real.
Try Motrin instead of Tylenol, lots of fluids, a daily multivitamin with minerals (so your lo is getting enough potassium and magnesium), heating pad and massage/stretching before bed on those really active days.
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:17 PM   #3
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Re: Help for cramps/muscle spasms in 4 year old?

Try more calcium. I always get lag pains when I am pg, but if I take calcium supplements it goes away. Other wise Tylenol.
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:18 PM   #4
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Re: Help for cramps/muscle spasms in 4 year old?

My DS had the same thing.

For him an Amber necklace really cut down on the pains in his legs (nightly, had to rub them hard for at least 2hrs at night) and rubbing Leg Cooling Gel from the Body Shop on his legs. And sometimes when its really bad children's chew able Tylenol.

It is more common when he is running all day non-stop. He gets them now maybe 2 times a month, it was nightly.
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:19 PM   #5
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Re: Help for cramps/muscle spasms in 4 year old?

Have him eat more bananas. This is what happens to me when I don't get enough potasium.
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