Do you think that back pain is an ailment of the old? Or even middle- aged people? Think again coz there are younger and younger people suffering from back pain. I am talking about the little people aka your children. It sounds unlikely but ask a mother whose child complaints of back pain every night. We tend to take back pain in children somewhat lightly. I have heard things like “Oh its growing pains” or “he plays sports, back pain is normal!” or “I have told her a million times to stand straight, she just doesn’t listen so she has pain!” Parents usually end up bringing kids into my clinic once they are much older when the pain has worsened to the point that it affects their studies. The irony is that this pain could have been prevented in the first place.

While it’s frustrating to have your child complaining of back pain, it is something to be addressed sooner than later. There can be many reasons for the pain, some of them being excessive physical exertion, lack of nutrients, poor postures, inadequate care while playing sports, incorrect shoes, scoliosis, fractures, disc problems, and many others. While all of these may contribute to the pain, in my experience most of it stems from incorrect postures and improperly loading the spine from an early age. Let me explain. 

Have you ever stopped to check how heavy your child’s bag is? Or how he/she carries it? Is the school bag ergonomically placed? My guess is - not really! 

Let’s discuss a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to reducing the load on your child’s back.

  1. Check the weight of the bag filled with books and other items. The weight of the bag should not be more than 20% of your child’s weight.
  2. The school bag must be placed higher up on the shoulders; above the waist. Adjust the shoulder straps to place it higher. The lower the school bag, the more the pressure on the spine.
  3. The backpack must have wide, padded shoulder straps. This distributes weight evenly on the shoulders avoiding strain on the back.
  4. While your child is standing with the bag, the shoulders must be erect. If your child is stooping or leaning forward, either the bag is too heavy or it is placed too low. 
  5. Invest in a bag that has a strap connecting the shoulder straps either on the chest or on the waist. This makes the bag ergonomic and cuts strain on the back drastically.
  6. The backpack must not be wider than the shoulders and while sitting it should not be taller than the shoulders.

Taking care of these small things about the school bag from an early age makes sure your child does not develop a habitual poor posture encouraged by the bags and it makes sure that the spine muscles don’t get excessively over loaded leading to back pain. Majority of back pain in children tends to be of muscular origin however you should keep in mind a few red flags that might denote pain originating from a more serious pathology. 

Looks out for signs like night pain(pain that awakens your child from sleep); constant pain; pain along with fever, chills, weight loss; persisting pain more than 3 weeks; pain in very young children; leg pain, numbness or weakness.

Ensuring our children have healthy backs starts from a very young age. Let’s enable them to have a strong spine now so in adulthood they attain all that they desire without worrying about back pain.