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When your children say they have back pain, you may be left wondering whether it’s just a common discomfort or whether it’s time to schedule an appointment with a paediatric spine specialist. It’s common for adults and older people to suffer from back pain, but it’s usually not regarded as a childhood issue.

As said above, it is known that back pain usually affects middle and older age people, but in recent studies, experts found that children and adolescents are becoming more vulnerable to back pain these days. Compared to boys, girls are more likely to have it. Approximately 30 out of 100 children and young people are suffering from back pain, but only a few children are seeking medical attention.

This article provides you with the insights of back pain in children. You’ll know about the symptoms, causes and preventive measures.

Symptoms of back pain in children

Annoying pain felt in the back is said to be back pain. The symptoms vary from one person to the other based on the cause of back pain. 

  • Depending on the problem, pain can last for a short time or for a long time.
  • Children may experience mild to severe pain. It may remain in the middle of the back or radiates to different parts of the body, like your arms or legs.
  • Your child may find sleeping difficult at night if they experience back pain.
  • Your child may have difficulty performing physical activities due to back pain.
  • It is possible to pinpoint certain behaviours that aggravate the pain—like lifting and carrying. Resting makes it feel better. Sometimes the pain fluctuates for no apparent cause.
  • Some other symptoms your children may experience include high fever, weakness, numbness, a sensation of pins and needles, or bowel problems.
  • Their walking, bending, and movement can be affected.
  • A tender spot might be found on their back.
  • In some children, you may find that their back begins to curve or twist.

Causes of back pain in children

This unpleasant, persistent back pain appears to be triggered by a variety of factors.

Some minor injuries sustained while playing regular sports and games result in muscle spasms, which make your back muscles work harder. In addition to fatigue and pain, this can lead to changes in posture.

Poor posture is one of the reasons for back pain. In addition, children with sore backs may not involve in sporting activities, which may lead to more problems.

Back pain in kids can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Girls are at more risk of back compared to boys
  • Children of 12 years and above experience back pain more frequently than younger children
  • Obesity or extra weight
  • Poor posture
  • Backpacks that are not packed correctly
  • A sedentary lifestyle like watching TV or sitting or lying in front of it for long hours
  • Back injuries while playing contact sports or other physical activities
  • Muscle strains and sprains 
  • Back pain can also result from a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and unnatural gaits.

Medical factors that cause back pain

Injuries to bones and joints – problems like compression fractures and disc injuries are rarely seen in children 

Disc herniation: this condition is more common in young people and rarely seen in children. Pain, numbness and tingling sensation are the major symptoms. Children may find it difficult to bend or straighten their back.

Stress fractures: this condition is commonly caused due to an injury to the bone in the spine. Children playing sports, especially those that involve bending backwards repeatedly, like gymnastics, diving etc., are more prone to this condition. They can result in instability in the spine.

Fibromyalgia – though adults are more exposed to this condition, this chronic pain disorder also affects young adolescents. It causes back pain and neck pain associated with muscle spasms and fatigue.

Infection: certain bacterial infections in the spine can also cause back pain and are difficult to diagnose. Fever and non-localized pain in the back are the main symptoms. If your child suffers from fever along with back pain, consult a doctor immediately. 

Tumours: This is one of the rarest causes of back pain in children and adolescents. Back pain, especially at night, weight loss or persistent illness are the symptoms. Conditions like osteoid osteoma can be seen in children which respond well to surgical resection.

Spinal deformities

Juvenile scoliosis and Scheuermann’s kyphosis (a growth disorder) are the common spinal deformities in children. They may develop over the years and may not always cause pain, even if apparent. Both diseases result in abnormal spine curves.


A structural defect occurs in the vertebrae at the time of birth. The intensity of back pain may be increased when performing particular activities. This pars break can be repaired in children so that they do not develop spondylolisthesis when they grow up to adulthood.


This is a condition in which one vertebra overlaps the next one. Your child may suffer from severe back pain and might require spinal fusion surgery if they suffer from this condition. Lytic and Dysplastic spondylolisthesis can present in children and these children have a step in the spine which can be checked by feeling ( palpation ) of the back.

Such conditions need serious investigation and may need surgery based on the situation.

Preventive tips for back pain in children

  • Always use safety belts in strollers, pushchairs, and changing tables to lower the likelihood of falls in younger children.
  • Make your home playground equipment safer.
  • While doing homework, please encourage your children to take regular breaks and make them walk & stretch; this is because sitting for more time can fatigue their backs. Walking and stretching can be beneficial to their back muscles.
  • You should limit their time spent watching television and using mobile phones or computer.
  • It would be best if you taught them the correct way to sit in a chair. Rather than slouching, make them sit up straight.
  • To maintain a better posture while doing homework, you may need to buy them an ergonomic chair.
  • Exercise and diet are important parts of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Prevent carrying very heavy backpacks.

Make sure your child gets enough exercise. On the other hand, don’t let your child exercise excessively. Too much or too little either can cause harm. So consult an expert doctor for proper advice if your child has a back pain problem. 

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