Back Pain in Children
Sometimes kids get backaches too. A child can have soreness in their back muscles for a number of reasons.
Backaches occur more commonly in adults than in children. However, children can occasionally complain of back pain. When a child suffers from a sore back, it is important to figure out the source of the discomfort. The child’s daily routine should be considered. A number of activities and situations can contribute to back pain in kids:
Backpacks. Backpacks that are too heavy or that fit improperly can cause muscle strain over time. It is important that the backpack be of a proper size that fits the child correctly. If the backpack contains too many books or other heavy objects, it can cause the child’s muscles to become fatigued. When a child’s deep postural muscles (specific muscles in the body that function to support the skeleton’s posture) become injured, it may take weeks for the body to heal. Over time, a backpack that is too heavy or that doesn’t fit correctly can cause small misalignments to occur in the bones of the skeleton. Once the body’s skeletal framework has been altered, a child’s body can experience poor posture and muscle soreness.
School desks. Many children spend hours a day seated behind a school desk. Some desks that are connected to chairs do not fit left-handed children well. Other desks are sometimes too tall or too short to fit the child’s height properly. If the child spends too much time seated, and not enough time standing and walking, certain muscles (such as the piriformis muscle) can become chronically tight. This can affect the child’s posture and movement. If the desk is located in an unusual position or at an awkward angle inside the classroom, the child may be required to lean to the side or tilt their neck in order to see the instructor. This may cause muscles to become tired or strained.
Console games. Hand-held games and console gaming systems offer their own host of posture-related issues. These games cause little-to-no problem when used in moderation. However, if the child spends hours at a time with their head angled forward, this can cause lasting changes in their posture. This can trigger changes in the natural shape of their spine.
Improper chairs. Chairs that are too tall, too short, or too hard, can affect the mid back and lower back. If the child’s knees are not level with their hips, muscles can become tight or fatigued. If their back and spine doesn’t relax comfortably against the back of the chair, they can develop back pain.
Tablets/phones – Mobile devices such as tablets and phones can cause the shoulders to angle forward. When looking at a child from the side, the ears should be located above the center of the shoulders. If the head is angled too far forward or the shoulders rotate to the front, the upper back muscles can become tense.
Sports. Team sports and activities such as gymnastics and ballet are healthy for children to participate in. However, children must have adequate rest between practices and performances. Proper hydration and nutrition is also important when participating in these activities. Children are prone to injury when they practice when tired or practice too often. Before beginning any sports activity, a correct warm-up routine is important. Kids who complain of muscle and joint aches may be receiving insufficient rest.
Improper footwear. Children grow quickly. Sometimes they outgrow their shoes before their parents realize it. This is why it’s important to regularly check children’s shoes, especially if they are in the middle of a growth spurt. Shoes that are too small or that have soles that are unevenly worn can affect how kids stand, walk, and run. This can cause muscle fatigue in the legs and low back.
Falls. During childhood, there are many occasions for children to fall: out of trees, down the stairs, at the playground, in the schoolyard, at sports events, and even in the living room. Most falls are minor ones that cause no problems at all. However, a child can sometimes experience a more severe fall that can cause injury to bones, joints, or muscles.
Improper pillow. Sleeping on a pillow that is too thick, or that fits the neck incorrectly can force the child’s neck into an uncomfortable angle. This can irritate the musculature of the neck and upper back.
Not getting sufficient exercise. It’s important for children to receive enough daily exercise. Their growing bodies are designed to run, jump, and play. Exercise increases the amount of oxygen in the lungs and muscles. Staying active enables muscles to contract, grow, and be more efficient. Kids that lead sedentary lives risk having weaker, less developed muscles. Without adequate exercise, joints can become stiff and harder to use.
Growing too quickly. When the bones grow quickly, the muscle has to grow, stretch, and adapt to meet the needs of the growing body. A growth spurt can trigger muscle soreness and growing pains.
Healthy, active children rarely experience back pain that lasts longer than a day or two. When they take a tumble at the playground or have pain after a sports event, they usually feel better by the next day. If a child complains of back pain for more than a couple days, it may be cause for concern. Schedule an appointment with your chiropractor to assess the child’s back, spine, and posture. Many chiropractors are skilled at finding posture misalignments. They can evaluate an injury and make gentle corrections to the child’s skeleton. These careful corrections in the posture of children can restore symmetry to the skeleton and take pressure off of tired muscles. Children who consistently receive the benefits of chiropractic treatment often perform better in sports and school.