Causes of Back Pain in Children

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San Diego, CA – October 6th, 2010 – ChiroTouch™, the nation's leader in chiropractic software, recently posted its latest article in its educational series entitled Causes of Bak Pain in Children.

Causes of Back Pain in Children

Many adults develop back pain as they enter middle age, due to degenerative disc disease, old strains or injuries recurring, disease, muscle tension or other causes. Because these types of issues don't typically affect children, most parents don't expect back pain to become a problem . But there are several conditions specific to pediatric medicine that cause children to experience this discomfort.

Proactive parents can effectively address some factors which contribute to back pain in children, such as carrying heavy backpacks. Other more dangerous sources of pediatric back pain, including genetics and disease, require professional help. Chiropractic therapy or physical therapy, in conjunction with the care of a family pediatrician, can help to relieve a  child's pain.

The Backpack Factor

If you have ever held a job requiring heavy lifting, or if you have carried a toddler around all day, you know from experience the strain such a load can put on your back. Many school children carry just as heavy a burden, proportionate to their sizes, inside their backpacks every day.

Medical and chiropractic documentation attest that a rare medical condition, spondylolysis, a stress fracture in the back, affects around 5 percent of school-age children who experience back pain. Another condition children develop in result of carrying too heavy a load on a regular basis is apophysitis, in which their growth plates become inflamed, often in their heels, causing back pain. Stretching therapy, rest, and in severe cases, bracing, are the remedies which pediatricians commonly recommend for patients who develop apophysitis.

Children who regularly carry heavy backpacks may experience other physical consequences. They might develop a rounded back from leaning forward to balance the load; they might strain their back and neck muscles from holding their head at an unnatural angle. If they compensate for a heavy backpack by leaning forward, they may walk sway-backed, increasing the possibility of spinal stress-fractures or pelvic misalignment.  Any of these changes in posture, according to chiropractic documentation, can spark back pain in children.

As a proactive parent, you can make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 15 percent of her total body weight, which is the limit that experts recommend. You can watch your child for posture changes which might indicate that he is carrying too heavy a load.

If your child complains of back pain, seek immediate medical evaluation and therapy recommendations.

The Weight Factor

Recent pediatric studies conclude that among children experiencing back pain, a greater percentage of those are significantly overweight.  A study at The Children's Hospital in Montefiore, New York showed for the first time a relationship between "increased body mass index and disc abnormalities in children". The primary significance of the study is that it identifies the presence of disc degeneration in pediatric patients, since previously, the general consensus held that disc disease in children was virtually nonexistent. The growing number of children with a high body mass index (BMI) indicating obesity is related to the occurrence of disc abnormalities.

Parents can practice prevention by helping their children maintain a healthy BMI, get daily exercise, and eat nutritional foods. If your overweight child is experiencing back pain, consult your pediatrician for an evaluation and a therapy referral. A visit to your chiropractor may be in order, and new developments in EMR (electronic medical records) systems which streamline chiropractic documentation will make your child's therapy program more effective, with less time away from school.

Pathogenic Back Pain Causes

While your child's isolated episode of back pain may be the result of a playtime or athletic strain which goes away after a brief period, a more severe back pain and/or one which does not ease after several days can be the result of a medical condition which requires a visit to your pediatrician.

The fact is that children under ten who have not experienced an obvious injury hardly ever complain of back pain, so if your child voices such a complaint or has difficulty walking, your inner alarm system should go off.

Back pain can be one of the first manifestations of an infection in the child's skeletal or muscular system. More rarely, a child can first feel the effects of a tumor as back pain.

Pediatric diseases causing back pain include:

• Tuberculosis of the spine—an infection of the spinal column—a.k.a. Pott’s disease

• Ankylosing Spondylitis—arthritis of the spine, causing joint inflammation

• Scoliosis—sideways curvature of the spine

• Septic arthritis—pain caused by joint inflammation

• Vertebral Osteomyelitis—a bacterial or fungal infection of the vertebrae

• Urinary tract infection—caused by bacteria in the urinary tract

• Neuroblastoma—a malignant tumor which develops in the nerve tissues

• Leukemia—blood cancer, usually in white blood cells

• Lymphoma—cancer in the lymph nodes

• Endometriosis—uterine tissue misplaced in the abdomen, causing such problems as infection

• Brucellosis—an infectious disease caused by Brucella bacteria

• Pyomyositis—a muscle infection caused by Staphylococcus bacteria

• Meningitis—serious infection of the brain and spinal cord membranes

• Pneumonia—serious respiratory infection

• Myalgia—muscle ache

• Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis—chronic joint inflammation in children and adolescents

• Scheuermann's disease—a bone and spine disease

• Ewing's sarcoma—a rare cancer of the bone and soft tissues

• Pancreatitis—inflammation of the pancreas

• Appendicitis—inflammation of the appendix

While the above is not a complete list by any means, you can see from the variety of conditions which may cause back pain in children that your pediatrician's evaluation is absolutely essential. Many of the listed diseases are relatively if not extremely rare in children, however, so there is no need for you to become overly concerned until obtain an expert's opinion.

As with any other health issue your child may face, sustained back pain is a problem which you should deal with when it first arises in order to ensure the continued good health and well being of your child. With the expert advice of your pediatrician and pediatric chiropractic therapy with detailed chiropractic EMR documentation, you and your medical team can effectively track, manage, and potentially banish the specter of back pain from your child's future.