Back Pain in Children

bambina con tabletIt is not uncommon for children and teenagers to experience back pain.

Up to 25% of the children with back pain, experience it for longer than 3 months(1). We know that this, along with other factors such as asthma and headaches in younger years, may be pre-disposing risk factors for back pain in adulthood (2,3).

For half of the children with back pain, it starts due to an accident and often from sports. For the other half, back pain is often due to micro-trauma. Or smaller traumatic incidents which go unnoticed overtime until there is enough cumulative damage to cause pain. This micro-trauma is often induced by poor posture, less movement and an increase in sedentary (sitting) time. For example, the increased use of smart devices from a young age.

The Bottom Line…

The movement patterns you create as a child and the posture you adopted in those early formative years when you started standing and walking can affect how you use your body later in life. Having had back pain as a child or teen may be related to having back pain as an adult. Bad posture will tend to worsen if not stay the same, unless there is some form of intervention. If you suffered other issues like headaches or asthma in these younger years, this also puts you in a higher risk group for back pain in adulthood(1).

What can I do for my child’s back pain?

  • A period of active rest, as opposed to complete bed rest, is important during the acute stage to let the body start to heal.
  • An ice pack, or other methods of pain relief, can be used to limit the pain. Keep in mind pain is the body’s warning signal, and if it is dulled this can lead to further injury if your child is pushing themselves beyond the injured tissues capability.
  • Assessing posture, technique in sport, amount of (either too little or too much) of sport, amount of time spent in front of technological devices etc to see where obvious changes can be made to help.
  • Have your child’s posture assessed by a professional.

If you are noticing that your child is developing poor posture, or uncoordinated and ‘sloppy’ movements, don’t wait until they develop back pain. Don’t let it get to the stage where they will have to be nursing a ‘weak’ back in their adult years. It is much easier and quicker to strengthen movement patterns and posture in children before injury, than it is after injury.

  1. Debbie Ehrmann Feldman, Shrier, Ian, Rossignol, Michel, Abenhaim, Lucien. Risk Factors for the Development of Low Back Pain in Adolescence. American Journal of Epidemiology1(Jul 01, 2001): 30.
  2. Hayden JA, Mior SA, Verhoef MJ J. Evaluation of chiropractic management of pediatric patients with low back pain: a prospective cohort study. Manip Physiol Ther 2003 (Jan);   26 (1):   1–8
  3. Lise Hestbaek, Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde, Kirsten O Kyvik. Is comorbidity in adolescence a predictor for adult low back pain? A prospective study of a young population. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 16.03.2006, 7:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-7-29