Most of us don’t associate back pain with youth.  When we think of back pain, we generally associate it with advancing age.  But that’s not the whole story.

The truth is that back pain afflicts between 10 and 30% of children and youth between the ages of 10 and 19.  It’s difficult for some parents to accept, but there are several causes they should know about.  Parents should also know when to worry about young people complaining of back pain.

6 Common Causes of Back Pain in Kids

Let’s look at six common causes of back pain in kids.

Disc Herniation

While disc herniation is not as common in children as it is in adults, it can nonetheless occur in very young people. Pain in the legs, numbness and tingling, weakness, and problems with bending or straightening the back may be experienced.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures in the spine are most commonly caused by spondylolysis, an injury to bone in the spine. As might be suspected, sports are often the cause, especially those that involve repeatedly bending backward. Gymnasts and young people involved in diving are prone to this condition, which can cause profound instability in the spine.


Infection in the spine can be difficult to diagnose, with symptoms ranging from general ill health to fever and non-localized back pain.  Any child with a fever and back pain should be given standard blood tests.  When infection is indicated, it’s likely to be occurring in the spine.


While this is a relatively rare cause of back pain in children and youth, when young people complain of pain at night (especially when it prevents or interrupts sleep), experience weight loss, or feel unwell for more than two weeks, diagnostics should be run to ensure that a tumor is not the cause.

Spinal Deformities

Conditions like juvenile scoliosis and Scheuermann’s kyphosis are not always immediately detectable and may not always cause pain, even if noticeable. Both conditions cause abnormal curvatures of the spine.

When To Call Us For Help

If your child or adolescent is experiencing symptoms like pain preventing sleep or waking them up at night, you must seek a diagnosis immediately.  Sleeplessness is a strong signal that something’s amiss.

Pain that persists for several weeks indicates that you need medical support.  Symptoms like dizziness, general illness, chills, weight loss and pain, weakness, or numbness in the legs are warning signs that your child needs medical attention.

Advanced diagnostic tools like those we employ at Advanced Spine Center can identify the root cause of your child’s back pain.  The sooner you come to us, the sooner we can help.

Remember that back pain in children, when treated by experts, doesn’t necessarily mean the problem will continue into adulthood. Most children with back pain will go on to lead pain-free lives.

Contact us for an appointment if your child is experiencing persistent back pain.


1. What are the common causes of back pain in children?

Back pain in children can be caused by various factors, including muscle strain or injury from sports or physical activities, poor posture, heavy backpacks, underlying medical conditions such as scoliosis or spinal infections, and stress or emotional factors.

2. How can I tell if my child’s back pain is serious?

While back pain in children is often temporary and resolves with rest or minor interventions, parents should be alert to certain warning signs that may indicate a more serious underlying condition. These include persistent or severe pain, pain that wakes the child at night, and other symptoms such as fever, weakness, numbness, or pain that interferes with daily activities.

3. When should I seek medical attention for my child’s back pain?

Parents should seek medical attention for their child’s back pain if it is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as fever, weight loss, or neurological symptoms like weakness or numbness. Additionally, if the pain is related to a specific injury or trauma or if the child has a history of cancer or other serious medical conditions, prompt evaluation by a healthcare professional is warranted.

4. How can I help prevent back pain in my child?

Parents can help prevent back pain in children by encouraging proper posture, limiting heavy backpack loads, promoting regular physical activity and exercise to strengthen back muscles, and ensuring a supportive mattress and ergonomic workspace for studying and promptly addressing any underlying medical conditions or concerns.

5. Are there any specific risk factors for back pain in children?

Certain factors may increase the risk of back pain in children, including participation in high-impact sports or activities, carrying heavy backpacks, prolonged periods of sitting or slouching, obesity or overweight, family history of back problems, and underlying medical conditions such as scoliosis or arthritis.

6. What treatments are available for back pain in children?

Treatment for back pain in children depends on the underlying cause and severity. In many cases, rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, and gentle stretching exercises may be sufficient to relieve symptoms. However, for more severe or persistent pain, medical interventions such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, bracing, or, in rare cases, surgery may be recommended by a healthcare provider.