“Mum, my back hurts!” I think most people only think of adults as having back pain. If children were to complain of back pain then it must either be something very serious or just growing pains! However, writes Reading Chiropractor Beccy Norman, there is so much more to it, so if you hear “Mum my back hurts!” then you should work out what the cause really is.
A Danish study that followed school children aged 8-15 over a three year period found 55% of them experienced spinal pain at some point and 17% of them lasted more than a month. A scary statistic considering we class anything that lasts longer than 6 weeks to be a chronic problem. We all want children to be fit, healthy and active and we certainly don’t want spinal pain to be something that holds them back!
Your feet are the foundation blocks for your body. If you have a rocky foundation, and you then begin running around it’s going to start causing problems further up. It can affect the knees, hips or the low back.
At Reflex, if we think that foot biomechanics are the potential cause of you child’s spinal pain we will refer them for a gaitscan within the centre. This will determine if your child would benefit from a pair of orthotics. This is a specialised orthotic insole that goes in to the shoes to correct the feet. This is exactly like wearing spectacles for your eyes! There is research that suggests as many as 85% of the population would benefit from orthotics. And remember, whilst parents teach, and nag, our children to brush their teeth, and have both hearing and eyesight checks, hardly any child has any form of biomechanical check up.
Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine, that for obvious reasons can cause a considerable amount of pain. It usually begins to show between the ages of 9 and 14. Often this can be treated non-invasively but occasionally, depending on the size of the curve and how it progresses, it may need corrective surgery.
Schuermann’s is also a possibility which causes a kyphosis in the spine. This is a curvature that can be seen from the side of the spine rather than from the back. Just like scoliosis, this can be treated conservatively or if severe may need corrective surgery.
Although an x-ray Is needed as a final diagnosis for both these conditions, your chiropractor or osteopath can gage a good idea of whether this could be the issue and often the severity. They will then either treat or refer as necessary.
With kids always on the go and often fearless, it is often common for them to obtain a strain or sprain in the ligaments, muscles or the joints of the spine. The risk of this increases when partaking in a sport strenuously and regularly as a child. Acute strains or sprains are often relieved with rest, Ice and ibuprofen. However, if it hangs around more than a few days its worth seeing what your chiropractor or osteopath can do as there could be an imbalance. They will also be able to give you specific exercises to help stretch and strengthen.
There are over 200 muscles that help to keep the back upright so there’s no wonder sometimes we use these in the wrong way and they can become sore!
Inactivity and Increased screen time
With the technology invasion in to childhood, spending many hours hunched over an Ipad, or slumped watching TV has a detrimental effect on spinal alignment and the surrounding musculature. The average weight of your child’s head is around 10-13 lbs and it’s their spine’s job to support this. When we slouch over a phone or an Ipad the weight of the head is doubled in effect! This in turn can cause neck and back pain in children as young as three years old. The easiest way to prevent this is to reduce screen time as much as possible. If your child is already in pain tough, there is plenty we can do to help. Don’t forget this problem can often present as headaches in children as well.
There is genuine research out there that shows kids backpacks are getting heavier! This increased weight being held on the back for quite often fairly long periods of time, combined with kids wanting to wear them low or on one shoulder causes all kinds of problems! When the back has to carry a heavy load for a long time it will begin to compensate and that’s where the problems begin. A heavy backpack can also distort the natural curvature of the spine which is there to act as a shock absorber and enable proper movement of the spine. A heavy backpack can also lead to rounding of the shoulders which puts pressure on both the neck and mid back. Not sure if a backpack is causing problems? The best thing to do if “my back hurts” is pop in for a FREE spinal check with us and bring the backpack with you!
I have listed the most common causes of back pain but as with everything there are also some more sinister causes of “my back hurts”, which are much less common but important to look out for. The best thing to do is look out for the following symptoms. If they are experienced, make sure you book your child in to see the GP as soon as possible.
Dissing, K.B., Hestbæk, L., Hartvigsen, J., Williams, C., Kamper, S., Boyle, E. and Wedderkopp, N., 2017. Spinal pain in Danish school children–how often and how long? The CHAMPS Study-DK. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 18(1), p.67.
Shah SA, Saller J. Evaluation and Diagnosis of Back Pain in Children and Adolescents” J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2016 Jan;24(1):37-45.
Szita, J., Boja, S., Szilagyi, A., Somhegyi, A., Varga, P.P. and Lazary, A., 2018. Risk factors of non-specific spinal pain in childhood. European Spine Journal, 27(5), pp.1119-1126
17 Church Road, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire RG4 7AA
Reflex Spinal Health are a passionate, dynamic spinal health team. We are committed to help as many in our community of Reading, Berkshire and South Oxfordshire to enjoy the vitality of great health, to reach their health goals and feel truly alive! Our chiropractors and osteopaths offer the highest standards of care in a superb environment.