What To Do If Your Child Complains Of Back Pain

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 12, 2017

Child with Back Pain

Roughly 90 percent of Americans will deal with spine pain at some point in their life, and while back pain is generally reserved for older individuals who have endured decades of physical activity, sometimes back pain can develop in children. So what should you do if your child mentions that they are dealing with back pain? We explain in this blog.

Back Pain In Children

In most cases, instances of back pain in children don’t turn out to be serious, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take their complaints seriously. Even if there is nothing structurally wrong with their spine, there are still steps you can take to alleviate their discomfort.

For starters, try to determine why the back pain has developed in the first place. Has your child been carrying around a heavy backpack, or have they been playing floor hockey in gym class? Ask your child when their back started hurting, or if they remember how they hurt their back. If you can pinpoint the cause, you’re on a great path to diagnosing the problem. Even if you can’t narrow it down to one specific instance, there’s also the possibility that your child is going through a growth spurt and they are simply experiencing some general soreness.

After asking about why their backs hurt, ask them to rate their pain. Depending on their age, they may not give the most accurate description of their pain, but also be sure to observe them as they walk and talk. Is their back pain bringing them to tears or affecting the way they walk? If so, it might be a good idea to set up a consultation with a spine specialist to get to the bottom of the issue. If they rate their pain as minor or mild, you can begin some conservative treatment on your own.

Caring For A Child With Back Pain

If your instincts tell you that a trip to the emergency department isn’t in order, you can begin conservative care with your child. Oftentimes the best course of care involves:

  • Rest
  • Physical therapy/Stretching exercises
  • Reassurance

Start by limiting their activity for the next couple of days. They don’t need to remain bedridden, but you could consider writing them a note to excuse them from gym class or soccer practice. You’d be amazed at what 24-48 hours of limited stress can do for a spine. However, you don’t want to immobilize the spine, so find a couple of simple stretches on the internet that can help improve mobility, strengthen spinal structures, decompress nerves and increase blood flow to the spine. Complete 5-10 minutes of easy stretches with your child 1-2 times a day as their back heals.

Consult a Spine Specialist

Finally, reassure them along the way that they are going to be fine. Oftentimes it’s just a simple problem like a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve that’s causing pain. Ask them to report their symptoms over the next couple of days to see if anything gets worse. If pain doesn’t start to fade, or they develop symptoms like radiating pain or bladder issues, set up a consultation with a spine specialist or head into the emergency department for a quick evaluation.

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