by Kyle Jones
Back pain in children is steadily rising due to the changing landscape of our world. Our children are expected to learn at an incredible rate requiring numerous heavy text books. It is not unusual to see a seventy-five pound child carrying a twenty-five pound backpack. This amount of weight on a child’s spine is extremely detrimental. To complicate matters a typical child will wear the backpack down around their waist or thrown over one shoulder. Not only are they carrying too much weight on their back, but they are also distributing the weight unevenly throughout their body. Prolonged incorrect use of a heavy backpack can wreak havoc on a growing child’s spine. Excessive weight distributed unevenly throughout the spine may lead to premature damage of the joints in the spine creating pain. To prevent abnormal wear and tear on your child’s body limit their backpack to 10 percent of their total body weight. Also, make sure they wear their pack with both straps on their shoulders and the backpack is tightened to fit snuggly against the middle of their back.
Computer usage is at an all time high. Most children spend more time on a computer per day than their parents. Children of this generation are the first group of people to grow up with computers in their everyday lives. Hours upon hours spent sitting and playing on a laptop computer or ipad creates the opportunity for poor posture and abnormal stress throughout the structures of the spine. Prolonged time spent on a laptop may cause postural changes and ultimately lead to the development of back pain. To prevent back and neck injury, encourage your child to take a fifteen minute break from the computer every hour. Also, educate them to have the monitor at eye level in order to reduce strain on the neck and back as well as sitting in an upright and neutral posture.
The creation of computers and gaming systems have reduced the amount of physical activity in which children participate. Less activity means less calories expended. Add fast food and high caloric drinks, such as soda, to the equation and you arrive at the first generation of overweight children. Excessive weight has also played a significant role in the development of back pain in children. As the weight increases throughout the body each structure is required to work harder to perform the same activity. Increased demand on the structural support system of the body will inevitably lead to pain producing conditions. Encourage your children to exercise regularly and strive to develop proper eating habits to help them maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight will allow your child’s body to function the way it was originally designed.
Pain is the body’s alarm system to notify you that something is wrong. Just as you wouldn’t ignore your smoke detector sounding in your home, you should not ignore your child when they complain of pain. Back and neck pain in children are abnormal and should be taken seriously. It may be prevented by ensuring the proper use of backpacks, encouraging them to maintain a healthy weight, and promoting a healthy posture with computer use. If your child is already experiencing pain, seek the help of your local Chiropractic Physician. Chiropractors are trained to evaluate and treat numerous musculoskeletal conditions in adults and children alike. Early detection of a problem may allow for its complete resolution. The longer a problem lingers the more difficult it will be to treat. Be proactive in your child’s health. They will thank you later.
Dr. Kyle B. Jones is the Clinic Director and Founder of Carolinas Chiropractic and Spinal Rehab in Waxhaw.