There was a time when lower back pain was an adult condition associated with too much sitting at a desk and too little exercise. But as digital technology becomes ever more ubiquitous, an increasing number of children are adopting more sedentary lifestyles with intermittent or non-existent exercise or physical activity. The result—children are now experiencing adult-like back and neck pain.
Research commissioned by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) found that 65 percent of 16 to 34 year-olds report having experienced neck or back pain and nearly thirty percent has lived with the discomfort for up to a month. A significant number of chiropractors have noticed an increase in the number of younger patients presenting with neck and back problems.
As a result the chiropractic community is stressing to young people the importance of keeping active but if they do experience pain, to immediately see a practitioner and not to let the pain linger, which could potentially lead to other issues.
Researchers from the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, Australia, presented their findings from a study of children experiencing severe or persistent back pain and stiffness. The team found the possibility of underlying spinal cord compression and recommended an MRI scan of the spine be scheduled immediately.
For the study, case histories of 10 children with severe back pain were analyzed by the researchers over a five year period, and the review found that underlying causes included infection, inflammation, and trauma. Four of the children had spinal cord compression requiring urgent decompression and three children were found to have organic disease.
The main take-away for parents is that these conditions are not normally associated with children and can be overlooked as a possible diagnosis so seeking immediate practitioner or medical intervention is highly recommended should a child complain of back or neck pain.
It is especially important to be mindful of back issues with children who carry heavy backpacks to and from school. Dr. David Marshall, the medical director of sports medicine at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta, advises that the weight of a backpack should never be lower than the waist line; instead it should be carried high on the youngster’s shoulders. When buying a backpack, make sure it has two wide, padded shoulder straps as well as an abdominal strap to distribute the weight more evenly. Bags should never weight than 10 to 15 percent of the child’s weight; if the books exceed that weight, consider a rolling backpack.
It may not look very cool but neither does traction.