Myositis: The Symptoms and What I Learned


My four year old complained of a headache for a few days, but was otherwise his normal self. Four days after the headache began, he woke with bilateral lower leg pain and could barely walk. He hobbled around the kitchen complaining that his legs hurt, as I immediately scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician. He rapidly declined as the day went on, to the point that he could barely stand. 

The Diagnosis

I had to carry him into the pediatrician’s office because his pain and weakness were so bad. Aside from that (as scary as it was!) you would otherwise not know that something was wrong. His headache had improved and he was singing along to the radio on the ride there. The first thing they did was swab him for the flu, which came back positive. I was shocked as his only symptom was a headache.

The next test was a blood draw to check his creatine kinase (CK) level, which came back elevated. This was the first time I had heard of Benign Acute Childhood Myositis. The National Institutes of Health defines it as “a rare transient condition that occurs in children during the early convalescent phase of a viral upper respiratory infection.” It goes on to say that “BACM is self-limiting and characterized by sudden-onset bilateral calf pain that leads to difficulty in walking.” That is a text book definition of our experience! It was basically his body reacting after having the flu.


Our pediatrician said that if CK levels are too high, children need to get IV fluids to flush the CK from their bodies to prevent a burden on the kidneys. Thankfully, while Charlie’s levels were elevated, they were low enough to treat at home with increased oral fluids and pain medication. We were fortunate that within 24 hours he had significantly improved and was able to resume normal activities. Our recommendation was to recheck CK levels after 48 hours to monitor for improvement. 

What I Hope to Share

While it was terrifying how quickly he lost his mobility, it was so relieving to know that this uncommon illness usually resolves on its own within a few days. I hope that if any of you mamas are Googling these symptoms, I can offer you encouragement that it will be ok! It is always important have new or concerning symptoms checked out by a professional, but keep in mind that most childhood illnesses are mild and resolve with little intervention.

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Jenny M
Jenny is a Registered Nurse, Lactation Consultant, and Birth Doula. She and her husband Matthew met in college at Auburn and have been married for 11 years. They have 3 children: Harris (7), Charlie (4), and Emma Grace (2), and a slightly neurotic 1 year old 17-breed “super mutt” rescue named Chase. She has called Birmingham home since 2014, and loves raising a family here. She can be found all over Birmingham doing home visits with Central Alabama Lactation Services, and making mom content at Previa Alliance. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading, wine nights, and making her children gift baskets for every occasion, both real and made up.


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