Back Pain in Children

Children who are complaining about back pain should be evaluated by a health physician, notably if the pain is not going away after a couple of days or if there was no injury preceding the pain. The most common cause of back pain in children is due to sports injuries, but there are warning signs if your child is complaining that his/her back is hurting them.

If your child complains about their legs feeling weak, or you notice that they are less inclined to run and play or suddenly there is a change in the way your child walks or stands, you should seek medical attention. Other warning signs include fever, weight loss, trouble holding urine or bowel movements, or pain that wakes the child from sleep. Your health care professional will be able to determine if these signs are caused by an injury you did not witness, or if there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed and treated.

Chronic back pain is very uncommon in most children and the most common cause of back pain is an injury after a fall or maybe an injury due to a muscle pull or the straining of a ligament. Most of these issues can be treated with anti-inflammatory medicines such as children’s Advil or Tylenol. Pain that is more severe or that is not improving should always be checked out promptly by your family doctor.

Other causes of back pain in children can include the following:

Spondylolysis
Occurring in almost 5% of children, this frequent cause of pack pain is caused by a defect in the lower vertebra of the spinal column. The pain worsens with activity and improves after resting, while more severe cases may require bracing and in some instances, surgery.

Herniated Disc
While disc herniation is rare in children the symptoms include severe back pain including numbness and/or weakness in doing the simplest of activities. While surgery is reserved for the most severe cases, treatment is usually bed rest.

Pyelonephritis
Pyelonephritis is a kidney infection that can also cause back pain in children. Symptoms include fever, nausea, and pain or burning while urinating. A sharp pain will occur on one side of the child’s back and if you suspect that your child has this infection, you should immediately contact your health care provider.

Diskitis
Another infection that can cause fever, back pain and muscle spasms, is an infection of the disc space which may cause some children to refuse to stand or walk or try to hold their spine as straight as they can to alleviate the pain. If you notice your child exhibiting these symptoms and an x-ray is normal, demand an MRI to confirm a diagnosis, especially for early detection.

There are some other causes of back pain that are rarer such as tumors, neoplasms, arthritis and other infections, but if you see that your child is exhibiting any kind of pain as they go about their normal activity, play it safe and make a doctor’s appointment to have it checked out.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By: Updated:

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT Pain Relief Expert, Post Rehab Specialist

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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