Is your child or teen complaining of back pain? There can be many causes of back pain in teens, ranging from benign annoyances to more serious issues. Keep reading to learn more about the typical causes and preventative measures for back pain in teens, as well as options for diagnosis and treatment.
Causes of Back Pain in Teens
There are many simple causes of back pain in teens that are no cause for alarm. For example, carrying a too-heavy backpack, working out or playing sports improperly or without a warm-up, poor posture, sleeping in the wrong position, obesity, and over-exertion can all lead to back pain in teens.
Various structural concerns such as bone, joint, tissue, or disc injuries can be a cause of back pain as well, especially in teen athletes or those who have a history of injuries, such as being involved in a car accident or a fall.
If a child frequently complains of back pain with no obvious cause, there is the possibility of a more serious medical issue such as a spinal tumor or infection. Spondylolysis (a joint defect common in some athletes), spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebra), and scoliosis (an improper curvature of the spine) are some other less common medical causes of back pain in teens.
Diagnosis of Back Pain in Teens
A physical exam and comprehensive evaluation of your child’s medical history and symptoms can help diagnose the cause of their back pain. Any serious issues can typically be ruled out through the use of MRI and X-Ray technology. In some cases, blood work can also be done, such as in the case of a suspected infection.
Treatment of Back Pain in Teens
Most back pain in kids will be related to the soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, and tendons), which is less serious and typically caused by over-exertion. If your child’s back pain is due to over-exercise or injury, treatment typically consists of rest, physical conditioning, and rehabilitation. OTC pain medications such as ibuprofen can also help control the symptoms
Surgery may be considered in more serious cases such as a disc injury. If an infection is suspected, antibiotics may be prescribed. And in the rare case of a spinal tumor, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation may be needed after diagnosis.
Prevention of Back Pain in Teens
Ensure that your child gets plenty of rest and is drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after athletic activities and that they warm up and cool down properly after a workout or time of physical activity.
Your child’s backpack should not exceed what they can comfortably carry, and they should be encouraged to maintain proper posture when sitting for many hours a day at school or at home. A supportive mattress or mattress topper can help when the cause of back pain is due to poor sleep.
To discuss the diagnosis and treatment of your teen’s back pain, call us today for an appointment with one of our knowledgeable board-certified pediatricians!