Is Your Child Suffering From Back Problems? 10 Signs To Watch Out For!

back pain in kids

Back pain is a common health problem in adults with around 60-80% of the young population experiencing low back pain at some point in their lifetime. However, it is not just a problem in adults. In recent times, there have been numerous cases of back and neck pain reported in school children and adolescents. Dr. Nidhi Sanghvi Shah, National Clinical Expert at QI Spine Clinic, Mumbai, says, “When a child complains of a back pain or neck pain, it is a cause of concern. Long hours of sitting in school, incorrect posture while using gadgets, lack of physical activity are some of the key lifestyle reasons why children are getting affected at an early age.”

So to help parents know back pain in children at an early stage, Dr. Nidhi has listed some common signs parents should watch out .

10 Common Signs And Symptoms Of Back Pain In Children

Back pain in children has multiple causes including physical, genetic, behavioral, and psychosocial factors. So to know if your kid is suffering from back or is at risk of back pain and neck pain, here are symptoms you need to look for.

1. Constant slouching

It goes without saying that kids these days spend a lot of time indoors either watching TV, playing video games or using a computer, which is one of the common causes of back pain in children. Sitting in a position with a forward bend on a study desk or when using a laptop can impact the alignment of the child’s spine. This can cause a hunchback, clinically known as kyphosis, eventually leading to back pain.

2. Swelling and tenderness in the back

If your child complains of swelling, or tenderness in the spine which is accompanied with other symptoms such as fever, unexplained weight loss, malaise, and fatigue, it is a sign to worry. This could be due to constant pressure on the back, which can lead to inflammation in the area, causing swelling and tenderness in the region.

3. Change in walking posture

If your child has a tilted walking posture or suffers from an asymmetrical waist (uneven waist where one side is slightly curvier than the other), it indicated a serious back problem. This could be due to neuromuscular, postural or birth defects which can cause slight deformity or tilt during early years and tend to become worse over time as the child grows. It is one of the common symptoms of a condition known as scoliosis.

4. Pain that radiates to the limbs

If your child is suffering from arm pain or leg pain, it could indicate a back or neck pain. This is because, in some cases, the pain may start in the back but radiated to the arms, legs or even knees. This is usually a warning sign of a serious medical problem which should be investigated immediately.

5. Shoulder pain

Back pain is one of the tell-a-tale symptoms of back and neck problems. However, in some cases, pain in between the shoulder blades can also indicate an underlying problem in the back. If your child complains of shoulder pain, it should not be ignored. It could be mostly due to sports injuries, an inflammatory condition or postural stresses on the spine.

6. Fever and weakness

Fever and feeling weak are one of the common symptoms of most of the health problems and hence, it is difficult to know the exact cause based on these symptoms. However, if back pain is accompanied by fever, weakness or unexplained weight loss it may be a sign of an infection or a tumor in the back.

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7. Frequent headaches

The constant use of a smartphone or gadgets such as video games can put pressure on the back and the neck. Moreover, sitting in a wrong sitting posture while studying can also increase the pressure on the neck, which can lead to tension headaches. Frequent headaches may be a sign of a neck problem and not always a sign of a vision problem. So if your child uses smartphones or has the wrong posture and experiences a headache frequently, it is a sign to visit a spine specialist too.

8. Tingling sensation

In some cases, constant pressure on the neck and back can impact the nerves. This can lead to tingling sensation or feeling of pins and needles in the legs. It can even cause numbness in the hands and legs due to an excess pressure on the child’s nerves.

9. Difficulty in sleeping

It is a known fact that the poor quality of sleep, irregular sleep timings, and inadequate sleeping is a risk factor for developing back pain in school children. But did you know that back problems can also impair your sleep? Discomfort or pain in the back or spine can keep your child up at night. Do fix an appointment with a specialist as suppressing the pain with painkillers and use of sleep medication will not only delay the treatment but also make the condition worse.

10. Loss of bladder control

If your child suffers from a weak bladder which is accompanied by back pain, then it is a red flag. These symptoms could be due to compression of the nerves of the spinal cord which in turn affects the urinary bladder.

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1. Noll M, Candotti CT, Rosa BN, Loss JF. Back pain prevalence and associated factors in children and adolescents: an epidemiological population study. Rev Saude Publica. 2016 Jun 10;50.

2. Ganesan S, Acharya AS, Chauhan R, Acharya S. Prevalence and Risk Factors for Low Back Pain in 1,355 Young Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study. Asian Spine J. 2017 Aug;11(4):610-617.

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