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Back Pain in Children

There are thousands of children and teenagers with back pain in Georgia. Many different factors can cause back pain. In fact, even a child or a teenager (ages 11 to 14) carrying a book bag weighing as little as 2.5 pounds to 7.5 pounds can cause lower back pain in more than 20 percent of cases.1

However, not all back pain is a result of a heavy book bag. There are many different social, mental and emotional factors that can cause, or add, to lower back pain in children and teens, including:

  • Playing sports can cause lower back pain.
  • Being overweight can cause lower back pain.
  • Having emotional/behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, increases the risk for lower back pain.

Less than 10 percent of lower back pain cases require surgery to fix. That is why Children’s started one of the only multidisciplinary neurospine care clinics in the nation.

How do I know if my child has back pain?

There are many different symptoms of back pain in children and teens. Remember your child may not be able to fully tell you that his back hurts. So, keep an eye out for symptoms, including:

  • Night pain—your child’s condition may worsen when he lays flat. If your child is having trouble sleeping, back pain may be the cause—also called recumbent pain.
  • Radiculopathy—if your child feels numbness or tingling up and down his back, it may be a nerve that is compressed.
  • Claudication—your child may feel cramping of the lower back muscles, which may be caused lack of oxygen to the lower back.
  • Bowel and bladder changes—if you notice anything unusual with your child’s bathroom habits, tell your child’s doctor.

How can Children’s help my child?

We have a team of doctors and therapists who can help your child, regardless of what is causing his back pain. Your child will have access to:

  • Neurosurgery
  • Neurology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Pain management
  • Rehabilitation medicine
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Orthotics
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • General and thoracic surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Radiosurgery
  • Child life
  • Social work
Depending on your child’s condition, he will meet with many of these professionals who will develop a plan that is right for him.

For more information

Visit the Children’s Neuro Spine Care for Kids Program for details.

1Watson K. D., Papageorgiou A. C., Jones G. T., Taylor S., Symmons D. P. M., Silman A. J., Macfarlane G. J. “Low back pain in schoolchildren: the role of mechanical and psychological factors” Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2003, 88: 12-17