Some children with growing pains may actually have restless legs syndrome.Sleep 2004; 27(4):767-73S
Growing pains may be an important clue to the diagnosis of childhood restless legs syndrome (RLS). However, there are no previous studies to determine whether a subpopulation of children with growing pains meet the diagnostic criteria for RLS. The purpose of this study is to determine if some children with growing pains meet diagnostic criteria for RLS and to compare the polysomnographic characteristics of these children to controls. DESIGN/PARTICIPANTS/MEASUREMENTS: Eleven children from a pediatric neurology clinic with an emphasis on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and with a diagnosis of growing pains were referred. They were interviewed with the parent to determine if their symptoms of growing pains met criteria for definite RLS. Those who met clinical criteria for RLS underwent polysomnography, and the results of their polysomnographic studies were compared to those of a control group (10 children, mean age 9.7 years).
Academic medical center.
Ten (mean age 10.4 years) of the 11 children with growing pains met clinical criteria for RLS. In 4 of 8 families of these 10 children, 1 parent had RLS. Six of the 10 children had ADHD. There were no differences in the polysomnographic findings between the growing-pain and control groups, and none of the children with RLS had what is considered to be a clinically significant number of periodic limb movements of sleep. There were no differences in the polysomnographic findings between the "growing-pain ADHD" and "growing-pain non-ADHD" subgroups. The growing pains were severe enough for the patients and family to ask for treatment in 4 cases, and carbidopa/levodopa was utilized.
Some children diagnosed with growing pains meet diagnostic criteria for RLS, and a family history of RLS is common in these children. In some cases symptoms are severe enough to warrant treatment.