Growing Pains: Back Pain and Puberty

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As young children, puberty is something we all look forward to because puberty puts us all one step closer to becoming full-fledged adults. But there are many aspects of puberty that get very little attention. Of course there are the hormones and mood swings, but that is just a small fraction of the time known as puberty.

Contrary to popular belief, growing pains aren’t the only cause for back pain during puberty. Of course they play a major role but there are other factors that can cause upper, middle and lower back pain among both male and female adolescence. 

Pubescent Girls & Back Pain

Young girls generally reach puberty at a younger age than boys do, usually by several years. Estrogen is the hormone most responsible for the changes that take place in the female body during puberty such as the growth of breasts, expanding hips, start of the menstrual cycle and general growth. Some of these changes often come with back pain, in addition the discomfort of these uncontrollable changes.

The growth of breasts can cause back pain if the breasts grow faster than the rest of the body. Large breasts and back pain is a common problem, but the breasts only need to be large in comparison to each woman’s body for pain to occur. The other major cause for back pain during puberty for women is the start of a girl’s menstrual period. Cramps and lower back pain are old friends, and the contractions of the uterus that cause cramps, often cause back pain as well.

Much of the body growth that causes pain for young girls is caused by the changes the body makes to accommodate childbirth. The growth of the hips and the breasts, combined with menstrual cramps can cause lower back pain, hip pain and pain in the thighs.

Young Boys & Back Pain

For young males going through puberty the main source of back pain is growth spurts, which can be quite a painful process. Some young men grow slowly over a few years and their pain will be less than those who seemingly grow several inches overnight. The degree of pain experienced will always vary from one boy to another, however nearly all pubescent boys will experience these growing pains.

When a young boy starts to grow into his adult body his arms, legs and hips will grow, causing pain the lower and middle back. Sometimes these growing pains feel as though the muscles and joints are burning or tingling, and other times it simply feels as though the muscles are cramping and seizing.

Although young girls are as involved in sports as young boys are, young males tend to suffer from back pain associated with excess physical activity. Of course the back pain from physical activity is due to the body trying to accommodate the changes it’s going through.

Back Pain Remedies

There are plenty of things that can be done to help young boys and girls  treat back pain associated with puberty. First you want to work with pubescent kids to take preventative measures to avoid and minimize back pain, rather than just dealing with methods of pain treatment.

One of the best things to do for back pain is to encourage good posture. Adolescent children have been known to slouch, which puts unnecessary strain on the muscles in the neck and back. Gentle verbal reminders can go a long way in teaching good posture to avoid back pain.

Physical activity should be encouraged and insisted upon for all pubescent children as too much sleep and inactivity can promote poor back health. Sitting or lying down for long periods of time not only contributes to the obesity epidemic, but it also prevents the newly formed muscles from getting a proper workout. Walking, running and sports can all help keep puberty-related back pain at a distance.

By this same token, it is important that parents encourage not only physical activity but also appropriate breaks away from tech gadgets that affect posture and physical activity such as computers, tablets, video games, mobile gaming units, e-readers and smartphones. Being hunched over these devices for hours at a time can compound existing back pain.

Pain medication is another effective option for treating back pain, however the other treatments are safer, more effective for prevention and require less monitoring than a regimen of painkillers. Encourage healthy habits such as good posture, physical activity and a good diet and back pain is one less thing you will have to worry about as a parent with a child enduring puberty.

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