Back Pain in Children

DNA Pune January 28, 2010

Back pain is becoming increasingly common in children. The problem increases from 12% in children of 11 year age to 40% in children at 15 years. Heavy bookbags and backpacks are often blamed for increasing neck and back pain in children. Our backbone or spine consists of 33 small pieces of bones – each known as vertebra. These are tied together by various muscles and ligaments. Flexibility of spine allows movements of neck and back in various directions.
Average weight of a schoolbag varies from 4-7 Kilos. This should not be more than 10% of bodyweight for a given child. Children hold and lift bags in various ways. Carrying a bag over both shoulders is the best way of preventing back pain due to heavy bags. Girls and urban children report more pain due to heavier bags – this has led to further observation that psychological factors are also important cause of back pain. Rucksacks are associated with more complaints.
Back pain often results from wrong sitting and standing habits. This puts strain on your back muscles and ligaments. One must always sit and stand erect so that ears, shoulders, hips and ankles remain in a straight line. Couching whole watching TV or computer as well as while reading is a wrong habit leading to pain in back. More the time spent in watching TV more are the chances of getting back pain. A paunch and weak abdominal muscles put extra strain on back muscles. Maintenance of proper weight is thus desirable. Exercise prevents and relieves back pain as it strengthens muscles of back as well as those of abdomen.
Back strain during to sports or accidents usually settles in about 4 weeks. One must remain active as rest is detrimental to paining back. Although mechanical or nonspecific back pain is most common, it can be due to spinal diseases in a few cases. Back pain lasting for more than 4 weeks, awakening at night, back pain confined to a single area, fever, ill health, fever, weight loss, stiffness, numbness in legs and change of gait indicate a serious underling disease and one must see a doctor immediately if such complaints occur.