Most children will experience growing pains. Many will have leg pain at night, especially during growth spurts. But, if the leg pain continues after the growth spurt, the pain may be due to something else. Some children complain of a creepy crawly feeling or the feeling of spiders on their legs. If this feeling keeps them up at night, they may have restless legs syndrome.
Adults with RLS have a hard time falling asleep because of these strange feelings in their legs. Children with RLS often can’t describe the feelings in their legs. Instead, parents may notice their child constantly moves his or her legs and appears restless during sleep. The condition can be hereditary, so a child is more likely to have RLS if another family member has it. Children with kidney problems or low iron levels also are at greater risk for RLS.
If you suspect your child may have RLS, talk to your pediatrician. It is important to determine if the symptoms are due to natural growing pains or RLS.
- Louella Amos, MD, pediatric sleep specialist, Sleep Center, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
The Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the only sleep center in the state dedicated solely to the care of children and teens. The center has two locations (Milwaukee and New Berlin) both accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and staffed by four board-certified pediatric sleep specialists.