Back Pain in Children – Insights

Unlike adults, children will present differently when experiencing a serious or minor spine related condition, and many will not have as their initial symptom, back pain. It is more likely that a child with back pain will have a more significant underlying condition and must be evaluated immediately by a spine specialist. this guide from offers excellent info on this.

Children who have just finished their first growth spurt, and are experiencing back pain must be evaluated. There are many other symptoms in children that should alert the parents or the physician that a closer evaluation should be completed. This includes:

•Reduced physical activity or problems with walking
•Weight loss
•Fever or night sweats
•Leg pain
•Urinary or bowel issues
•Difficulty sleeping

Cause of Back Pain in Children

Childhood and Teenage obesity is currently on the rise in America, and coupled with reduced physical activity, muscle strain or sprains has become an ever increasing cause of low back pain in children. Increasing physical activity and exercise coupled with weight loss and diet control will help to reduce the incidence of this cause in children.

Other more serious causes include fractures, cancer, and infections. Herniated discs are less common in children and early identification and treatment of the more serious causes is important. Always see a doctor if your child’s back pain lasts for more than several days or progressively worsens.

The History:

Along with the physical examination, the history provides the physician a wealth of information and becomes the focal point by which the source of the problem is identified. Providing your child’s doctor as much information about he or she’s medical history, complaints, changes in activity patterns, and the presence of other symptoms or unusual behavior are important and must not be taken lightly, and will help direct the physicians plan for diagnostic studies.

General medical Questions:

•What is the overall health of your child including diseases or medical issues?
•What is your family history of disease?
•Any recent accidents, falls, or other trauma?
•Are there issues with their urination or bowel movements?

Sports or Activity Related Questions:

•Has your child stopped playing or their activity level has dropped?
•What are their primary and secondary sports or recreational activity?
•How often do they play, compete, or train?
•What surface do they play, compete or train on?

Spine Related Questions:

•Where specifically is the pain or numbness?
•Does it extend into the legs?
•How long have they been experiencing these symptoms?
•How did it start?
•Is the pain worse at night?
•Was the onset of the symptoms slow or occurred suddenly?

The Physical Examination:

The physical examination is a very important part of the process and should not be glossed over. This will include a very detailed musculoskeletal examination of the spine and the extremities looking for neurologic issues, muscular imbalance weakness or atrophy.

Your child will be asked to change into a gown with the back exposed followed by a simple initial evaluation of their ability to walk, stand, bend, and sit. Their posture will be scrutinized followed by a hands on musculoskeletal evaluation of there spine and extremities. This includes a sensory evaluation, motor testing for strength, reflex examination or other signs of spinal cord compression, and a vascular testing.