1 in 3 Kids Has Back Pain – How A Spine Doctor Can Help

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 18, 2019

Child Back Pain Doctor

A new study on the health of America’s youth found that an increasing amount of kids are dealing with regular back pain.

To get a better understanding of the prevalence of back pain among kids, researchers surveyed 3,700 kids between the ages of 10 and 18. The survey asked a number of questions, including if they had back pain, how active they were and demographic information about their height, weight and age. What they found is that roughly 1 in 3 kids reported dealing with back pain, and the likelihood of back pain prevalence increased as kids got older, as their weight increased, and if they played competitive sports. The good news is that researchers said most of their pain was minor and did not require treatment, but understanding how common this pain is and how to help prevent it could be good educational focuses for both parents and doctors.

“We see a lot of kids who have pain from overuse injuries or joint pain from playing sports,” said Dr. Peter Fabricant, a pediatric physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “of these kids who had back pain, very few actually required any sort of medical treatment intervention. Most didn’t need treatment at all.”

Back Pain In Children

Here’s a closer look at some of the findings from the back pain study involving children:

  • On average, the kids who reported back pain weighed more and had a larger BMI.
  • Back pain was more common among girls than boys (38 percent vs. 29 percent).
  • The percentage reporting pain increased about 4 percent for each year of increased age.
  • The most common location for back pain in kids was the lower back.
  • Nearly half of kids said their back hurt in the evenings, and about 1 in 6 said it interrupted their ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • 41 percent of families with a child with back pain sought medical treatment, and most did physical therapy.
  • Participation in competitive sports was strongly linked to an increased likelihood of pain, with JV and varsity athletes experiencing it more often than younger, recreational athletes.
  • Basketball was the most commonly played sport, followed by dance, baseball and football.
  • Kids who used one strap to carry their backpack reported significantly more pain than those who wore both straps, while kids who used rolling backpacks reported back pain most often.

Preventing back pain in children isn’t easy, but as parents, we owe it to our kids to help try and keep their spines in healthy shape. Encourage your kids to speak up if they are dealing with aches and pains, and be cognizant of their activity load. Specializing in one sport and participating in too many practices and games without downtime can overload their back, so be smart about their participation in recreational and high school sports.

With that said, activity is still preferred to screen time, as movement and exercise help to strengthen key structures in a growing child’s spine. Try to find a good balance between getting them enough activity and avoiding overstressing their backs. If you’re having a tough time hitting this target, or you have questions about your child’s back pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office for answers.

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