What causes neck and back pain in children?

Dr. Jeanne van Straten

M.Tech Chiropractic, (UJ).

Parents are becoming more concerned about the impact of school backpacks on their children’s weight. Private practice is witnessing a rise in complaints from children suffering from back and neck pain and headaches.

A child who carries a heavy backpack on their back can cause additional strain to the spine. In 2010, Dr. Timothy Neuschwander of University of California evaluated the spines of 11-year-olds in an upright MRI scanner. He first used empty backpacks and then used backpacks 4,5kg to 9kg to then 13,5kg backpacks. This indicated 10%, 20%, and 30% of the child’s body weight, respectively.

MRI scans showed that disc space was decreasing, particularly in the lower back. The biomechanics and spine function of the spine were also affected by the children’s changing postures due to their increased weight.

This causes hip flexion to increase, which in turn places additional load on the back muscles. This will result in lower back pain. Anterior head carriage is when the head tilts forward. This puts additional strain on the posterior neck muscles and shoulder muscles. This position can lead to neck pain, headaches, and sore backs in these children. Contact us for more information about pediatric chiropractors.

Postural imbalances can occur when the body is in a forward-tilted position for long periods of time. This will affect neural health, muscle strength, and eventually lead to spine-related issues as children age.

Bad posture can not only impact the musculoskeletal system, but also affect mental health. Erik Peper, Professor of Health Education at the University of San Francisco, advised that poor posture can cause feelings of depression and lower energy levels.

Consider that children can be affected by heavy backpacks, including their posture and ability to develop musculoskeletal or discogenic conditions. It can also affect children’s mental health and mental well-being as adults. Isn’t it time we addressed the issue of back pain in children?

Dr Dee suggests that there are a few things to consider when diagnosing a child with pediatric neck pain or back pain.

  • Is back pain a genetic condition? Is there a family member who has similar symptoms?
  • Does the child have a low level of muscle tone? Is the child prone to rounded shoulders? Do they struggle to write because of poor shoulder strength or lying on the table while doing homework?
  • Is ergonomics enough for their body type Is the table or chair the right height?
  • How do they carry their school bags? Is the bag carried on the shoulders of both the child and their school bag? Is the child carrying a carry bag or a trolley bag? How heavy is the bag that they have?

How can we prevent severe back pain in our children?

Children with low muscle tone and hereditary back pain are often diagnosed by their parents before they reach school age. This would have been brought to the attention of a family member, a doctor or preschool teacher and treated accordingly.

The ergonomics of the table height and the chair height have not changed over the past few centuries. However, children’s bodies have not changed which means that the factor of ergonomics is no longer relevant.

Teachers and parents should make sure that children have backpacks that are securely over their shoulders and close to their bodies to avoid excessive pressure on the back. Children should be taught by their parents to not carry unnecessary textbooks, laptops, or tablets.

According to international guidelines, a child should be able to carry between 10%- 15% of his or her body weight. However, this is not true as the backpack-body ratio is closer than 20%-30%.

Although many parents recommend trolley bags to reduce the burden on their child’s back, some healthcare professionals warn that spinal rotation can occur when a trolley is being pulled.

Schools will insist that children still need to carry their trolley bags up and down stairs. However, too heavy trolley bags can cause back pain for children and parents.

The main issue is the schoolbag’s weight, regardless of whether it is a trolley bag or school bag. Parents and teachers should agree to reduce the weight of schoolbags or trolley bags that are being carried by children. A 10%-15% bodyweight should be used for children’s back pain.

Is it normal for a child to experience back pain?

Although it is less common in children and teens than in adults, it can still be a problem in children with back pain.

Back pain can be more common in children who are overweight, play games or bring heavy backpacks to school. It is best to seek physical therapy for your child and consult a chiropractor if your child continues to experience pain.

What is the best treatment for back pain?

There are many treatments available for chronic back pain. Massage, biofeedback therapy and laser therapy can all be used to reduce back pain.

Talk to your doctor about other therapies that may be of benefit to you.

Chiropractic treatment for back pain in children

Chiropractic care for children should be tailored to their needs. First, the chiropractor needs to know the patient’s medical history. Then the chiropractor can adjust the patient according.

Next, a complete physical examination is required. A complete physical exam is required to identify any underlying conditions or physical therapy/ adjustments that may be needed.

You may feel some discomfort as the chiropractor adjusts your spine.

As the spine is being adjusted, you might occasionally hear a popping sound. This could be because the child’s joints are being adjusted.

What are the signs my child should seek chiropractic care?

Concerns expressed by parents about their child’s health are a sign that a medical evaluation is necessary. Growing children and adolescents are often flexible and resilient young bodies.

This is best for children who have suffered many falls and bumps in their childhoods, weak core muscles and sore back muscles.

To avoid further pain and suffering, consider chiropractic treatment if your child is experiencing persistent or recurring neck or back pain, restricted mobility, uneven shoulders or compensation when they stand or move.

What age can a child visit a chiropractor for treatment?

It’s your decision as to child chiropractic care. It is usually easier for parents to decide whether they need a chiropractor, a physical therapist, or a doctor. Even infants can receive safe and effective treatment.

Consult with your paediatrician if your child is under 3 years of age.

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