6 Causes of Back Pain In Kids and When to Worry

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.

Following are 6 common causes of back pain in kids and when to worry.

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

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

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

Tumors:  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 they may not always cause pain, even if noticeable.  Both conditions are responsible for abnormal curvatures of the spine.

When To Call Us For Help

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

Pain which persists for more than several weeks is another indicator 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 a continuation of the problem into adulthood.  In fact, 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.