Lower back pain in children
Lower back pain in children

It is common to hear adults complaining of back pain, however, this is not always indicative of something serious. However, it is rare to hear a child complaining of back pain. Such issues in children should never be ignored as it might be due to an underlying disorder. Back pain associated with fever, numbness, trouble walking, and pain during rest is a serious concern.

Your child may have a dull pain in the back muscles or may have a very sharp stabbing pain which makes it difficult for them to stand straight or bend forward or backward. Early identification of the causes and appropriate treatment would prevent complications, and keep your child pain free. Therefore, it is better to see the doctor if your child complains of back pain.

Certain underlying medical conditions in your child may cause back pain, and they include:

Spondylosis

Any sports injuries that stress the back, or sports such as gymnastics that require hyperextension of the back, increase the pressure placed on the vertebrae. This may lead to spondylosis resulting in severe back pain.

Vertebral fractures

If your child engages in extreme sports such as skateboarding and in-line skating, then it might put pressure on the vertebrae. In extreme cases, it might result in vertebral fractures or damage to intervertebral discs. This may cause intense back pain in your child.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one vertebra overlaps the next one. If your child has this condition, it may cause severe back pain and may require a fusion surgery.

Tumor

Rarely, spinal tumors can cause back pain in your child. Therefore, you must see the doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.

Infection

Your child’s back pain may also be due to certain bacterial infections in the spine. Therefore, consulting a pediatrician immediately would be helpful.

Causes of back pain in children

A sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and poor gait may cause back pain. Usually, back pain is more common in female children. Too much of a heavy load on the back such as school bags hung over one shoulder can lead to chronic pain. There may be other associated risks such as muscle strain, distortion of the spine, and rounding of the shoulders.

How to manage back pain in children?

Your child’s bag weight must be 10 percent less than his or her body weight. You must ensure that your child wears the bag over two shoulders as this makes the weight distribute evenly and does not cause backaches. You must check the fitting and shape of the bag before buying.

There is much evidence that indicates the adverse effects of a heavy school bag. It not only affects your child’s back or spine but also affects other body parts.

Investigations

The doctor may perform several diagnostic tests before confirming the cause of the back pain. The doctor may initially discuss your child’s medical history, and then would perform a physical examination. Blood tests, plain radiography, bone scans, X-rays, CT scan and MRI scan, may also be recommended depending on the type and severity of the pain.

How is back pain treated?

The doctor would prescribe the best suitable treatment based on the underlying cause:

Pain relievers: Your doctor may prescribe (non-prescription) OTC medications to help reduce your child’s back pain. These medications are prescribed mainly when the cause of pain is due to strains, sprains or overuse.

Heat: Heat application to the site of pain can help relieve it. You may use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or a hot cloth for applying heat. You must be careful enough to avoid burning the skin with a pack that is too hot.

Bed rest is not recommended. You can let your child perform small stretching exercises that are prescribed by your doctor.

It is important for you to consult a good doctor and get the underlying problem diagnosed. This helps in the early and appropriate management of the child’s back pain.

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