Muscle Pain in Children

Muscle Pain in Children

Nearly every child has muscle pain (myalgia) at one time or another. Most of the time, the pain lasts only a short time and it goes away without treatment. It is normal for your child to feel some muscle pain after beginning an exercise or workout program. Muscles that are not used often will be sore at first.

Muscle pain may also be caused by many other things, including:

  • Muscle overuse or strain. This is the most common cause of muscle pain.
  • Injuries.
  • Muscle bruises.
  • Viruses, such as the flu.
  • Certain medicines.
  • Some medical problems.
  • Infectious diseases.

To diagnose what is causing the muscle pain, your child’s health care provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about the pain and when it began. If your child has had pain for only a short time, the health care provider may want to watch your child for a while to see what happens. But if your child has had pain for a long time, the health care provider may do tests.

Treatment for the muscle pain will then depend on what the underlying cause is.

Follow these instructions at home:


  • If the pain is caused by muscle overuse, slow down your child’s activities in order to give the muscles time to rest.
  • Teach your child to stretch and warm up before strenuous exercise. This can help lower the risk of muscle pain.
  • Have your child do regular, gentle exercise if he or she is not usually active.
  • Have your child stop exercising if the pain is very bad. Bad pain could be a sign that a muscle has been injured.

Managing pain and discomfort

  • If directed, apply ice to the sore muscle for the first 2 days of soreness.
    • Put ice in a plastic bag.
    • Place a towel between your child’s skin and the bag.
    • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 2–3 times a day.
  • You may also alternate between applying ice and applying heat as told by your child’s health care provider. To apply heat, use the heat source that your child’s health care provider recommends, such as a moist heat pack or a heating pad.
    • Place a towel between your child’s skin and the heat source.
    • Leave the heat on for 20–30 minutes.
    • Remove the heat if your child’s skin turns bright red. This is especially important if your child is unable to feel pain, heat, or cold. The child has a greater risk of getting burned.


  • Give over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child’s health care provider.
  • Do not give your child aspirin because of the association with Reye syndrome.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has nausea and vomiting.
  • Your child has a rash.
  • Your child has muscle pain after a tick bite.
  • Your child has continued muscle aches and pains.

Get help right away if:

  • Your child’s muscle pain gets worse and medicines do not help.
  • Your child has a headache with a stiff and painful neck.
  • Your child who is younger than 3 months has a temperature of 100°F (38°C) or higher.
  • Your child is urinating less or has dark, bloody, or discolored urine.
  • Your child develops redness or swelling at the site of the muscle pain.
  • The pain develops after your child starts a new medicine.
  • Your child develops weakness or an inability to move the affected area.
  • Your child has difficulty swallowing or breathing.

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