Getting your kids back in school after a long summer is often a stress relief for many parents. But just because parents have a little more time to themselves again, doesn’t mean it comes completely stress free. There’s more math to learn, more papers to help with, and more projects to complete. But does it also mean back pain for your kids? Find out what you need to be aware of to keep your kids safe from back to school back pain.
When should you take your kid to the doctor about back pain?
- Back pain associated with a fever, weight loss, general discomfort, uneasiness or pain, or a poor appetite
- Back pain lasting longer than 6 weeks (chronic back pain)
- Back pain coupled with leg pain, numbness, or weakness
- Back pain that causes difficult sleep
- Back pain that stops your child from participating in daily activities
- Back pain is constant
- Back pain in very young children
Being desk bound for long hours and coming home to study slouched over another desk can create issues for your child’s posture and back. And when kids are taking breaks these days, they are usually on their phones or computers, neither of which are great for posture. Encourage your child to practice correct posture, exercise frequently, and take breaks from sitting whenever possible.
Kids might have a few less school supplies than we used to with tablets and computers instead of books, but they can still overload their backpacks and backs. Backpacks should not weigh more than 15 to 20% of your child’s body weight. Check your child’s backpack frequently to make sure they aren’t carrying too much weight. Encourage your child or teen to use a locker to keep extra school supplies in, if they have access to one.
Sports can be amazing for your child because they are exercising, which will help keep their muscles strong and back healthy. But too much exercise too frequently can have the opposite effect on their backs and muscles. Check with your child’s doctor to see how frequently your child should be exercising. If your child is concentrating all efforts on one sport, encourage them to switch it up sometimes so they are exercising different muscles.
If your child or teen is feeling stressed and overwhelmed by schoolwork, this stress can cause tension in your child’s neck, shoulders, and back muscles. Stress coupled with poor posture or a sedentary lifestyle from sitting at a desk for too long can cause back pain. Help your children learn how to deal with stress by encouraging them to take breaks, exercise, and confide in you for support. These healthy habits will help them throughout their lives.
Scoliosis (How to spot signs)
About 2 to 3% of children will be diagnosed with scoliosis. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- If your child or teen has uneven shoulders or one shoulder blade is more prominent than the other
- The head is not directly over the hips when they are standing up straight
- One hip appears to be higher or lower than the other
- One side of the rib cage appears to be more prominent than the other
- When standing up straight, your child appears to be leaning to one side
If your child is experiencing back pain and one of the signs, check with a doctor to see whether scoliosis is present. Detecting and diagnosing scoliosis early can save your child from pain and increased issues caused by scoliosis.
Advent Health Medical Group. (n.d.) Back to school without the back pain: tips for protecting students’ spine health. Retrieved from https://www.thespinehealthinstitute.com/news-room/health-blog/back-to-school-without-the-back-pain-tips-for-protecting-students%E2%80%99-spine
Children’s Health. (2021). Sign of scoliosis in children and treatment options. Retrieved from https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/dont-let-scoliosis-throw-your-kid-a-curve
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. (2021). Understanding back pain. Retrieved from https://www.choa.org/parent-resources/orthopedics/reasons-for-back-pain-in-kids
Cluett, J. (2019, October 26). 6 causes of back pain in children and when you should be worried. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/causes-of-back-pain-in-kids-4071958
Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (2017, January 30). Low back pain in school-aged children a common occurrence. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170130111014.htm
Spine One. (2021). Back pain in students is not on the curriculum. Retrieved from https://spineone.com/students-and-back-pain/