Back pain isn’t just for adults. Children can also experience spine-related problems that affect their quality of life. In fact, roughly 1 in 3 kids have back pain, which is just one of the big takeaways from a new study that involved a survey of nearly 4,000 children between the ages of 10 and 18. On the positive side, most instances of back pain in younger patients are minor or not serious enough to require treatment such as alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles parents should consider the following facts about back pain in children.
Weight Is a Factor
Many of the children surveyed with back pain, on average, had excess weight and a higher body mass index (BMI). Extra weight contributes to spinal discomfort because it places added stress on the backbone and its various parts.
Girls Experience More Back Pain than Boys
Back pain in younger individuals was more common in girls (38 percent), according to results from the study. Twenty-nine percent of the boys surveyed reported having back pain.
The Lower Back Is Affected Most Often
The most common area affected by back pain in children surveyed was the lower back. This is likely because the lower back is the most mobile and exposed part of the spine. Incidentally, lower back pain is fairly common in adults as well.
Kids Often Experience Back Pain in the Evening
Approximately half the children questioned reported having back pain in the evening. Furthermore, roughly 1 in 6 of the kids surveyed said it also affected their ability to either get to sleep or stay asleep.
Physical Therapy Is a Common Treatment
Of the families that had children with spine-related pain, 41 percent sought medical treatment. Most of the families also opted for physical therapy to help their children recover from or manage back pain.
Backpacks Affect Younger Spines
Other studies have also found links between using backpacks and back pain in children. What this study discovered was that children using single straps to support their backpacks had more spine-related pain than kids who used two supportive straps. Surprisingly, kids who used rolling backpacks complained about back pain the most.
Participation in Competitive Sports Increases Back Pain Risk
Children who participated in sports were more likely to develop back pain. This was more likely to happen with JV and varsity athletes, but not as much with younger athletes participating in recreational sports. The sports/activities the kids surveyed participated in most included:
It’s also interesting to note there was a 4 percent increase in instances of back pain with each subsequent age group. Part of the reason for this may be that as children get older, they tend to become more active. They also start to carry backpacks and develop other habits that could affect a developing spine. Getting regular exercise, wearing proper protective gear when playing sports, having appropriate downtime between various activities, and packing backpacks more lightly are some of the ways kids may be able to reduce their risk of developing back pain.
Back pain occurs in every age group, and children are no exception. If you or your child are experiencing severe or prolonged back pain, see your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon for prompt diagnosis and treatment. The industry-leading spinal health specialists at The Spine Institute have years of experience treating every kind of back and neck pain, so call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a personal consultation.