Back pain in children may be caused by a variety of different conditions. Often a brief episode of back pain is nothing more than a minor ‘strain’ associated with athletic activities or carrying a heavy backpack, but if your child’s back pain is severe or doesn’t go away in a few days, this needs to be investigated. Obvious injuries with pain or difficulty walking should always be evaluated immediately evaluated by your doctor.
If your child has back pain it will generally be accompanied by:
- Fever or weight loss
- Weakness, numbness, trouble walking or pain that radiates down one or both legs
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
- Pain that interferes with sleep
Children’s back pain is typically attributed to disorders and diseases of the spine. Notwithstanding injury, children’s back pain tends to be uncommon. So, if your child suffers from back pain, consult a physician as soon as possible. The pain may be due to a condition, such as:
Spondylolysis - This disorder affects almost 5% of children age 10 and under. It is caused by a defect in the lower vertebra. Those with spondylolysis will find that their back pain will worsen during and after activity and lessen during rest. For children who have severe spondylolysis, a back brace may be necessary. This is a very common cause of children’s back pain.
Scheurman's kyphosis - This is a disorder, which occurs mainly in adolescent males. It causes a round shape to the upper back. If the kyphosis cannot be corrected with proper posture, this will cause children’s back pain. Mild cases usually do not require treatment; however moderate to severe cases may need bracing.
Spondylolisthesis - Spondylolisthesis is a slipping of a vertebra onto another. If this condition worsens and develops into children’s back pain, spinal fusion surgery may be necessary.
Infection - Infection of the spine, otherwise known as discitis, is a dangerous condition that can cause children’s back pain. With a physical exam, doctors can usually suspect discitis. A symptom of infection may include swelling on the skin covering the spine. If bacteria are the cause of infection, discitis can be cured with antibiotics and rest.
Tumor - Tumors in the spine are rarely the cause of children’s back pain, but must be taken into consideration. The treatment of a spine tumor depends on the diagnosis and skill if your doctors.
Do not ignore your child if he or she complains of back pain.
If your child experiences weight loss; numbness, weakness or pain that shoots down the legs; bladder or bowel dysfunction; or severe pain that interferes with sleep, make a doctor’s appointment immediately.