Author: Dr. Theresa Sheppard
"Oh my aching back" isn't something parents expect to hear from their children, but it is a common complaint among adolescents who carry heavy backpacks, play sports and continue to ignore their mothers' admonitions to stand up straight.
So what's a parent to do if a child keeps complaining of back pain?
The first thing is to emphasize - again - the importance of standing up straight. When a child has good posture, the back is well-balanced and requires very little muscle power to keep it erect.
Teens with chronic back pain are often slouchers. When posture is poor, ligaments in the back get overstretched, and the spine becomes unbalanced. The muscles that support the spine have to work extra hard to keep the spine erect and the head up, which can lead to pain.
One common cause of slouching is lack of muscular development, especially in children addicted to videogames and TV. One way to help correct slouching is to get your child moving. Swimming provides an all-body workout that helps develop the back muscles and dance is also a great way to improve posture.
Athletes may need sports physical therapy, with exercises to improve the strength of muscles that support the spine. To help children with poor posture, muscle strengthening and stretching exercises are important.
Treatment for severe back pain, whether from slouching or sports activity, may include medication, activity modification and exercise or bracing.
While most back pain can be caused by muscular weakness, it can also be a sign of a medical condition such as scoliosis. If your child can't walk, has severe back pain that last for hours, has tingling or weakness in the legs, you should consult his or her pediatrician.
Source: Tidewater Parent Magazine