It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again. Summer vacation is over, and it’s time for kids to get back to the books. It is important to keep in mind several things that can impact your child’s health when he or she returns to school. Low back pain in children is a significant concern. According to a recent survey of school-aged children, the lifetime prevalence of low back pain is over 40 percent. And up to 26 percent of children missed school because of low back pain—with over 13 percent of cases including recurring and/or disabling pain!
From activity to inactivity
Once out of school, a good number of kids spend the summer being more physically active, and activity is great for keeping the joints moving and healthy. When they go back to school, kids’ levels of activity often decrease significantly. While a minimum amount of exercise is required in most curriculums, kids spend the majority of their time sitting at desks. To keep your child’s joints healthy, it’s important for children to have a healthy amount of physical activity planned for after school, with a minimum of two to three times per week recommended.
Posture, posture, posture
The majority of the time spent at school is sitting at a desk. Incorrect sitting positions can place an abnormal amount of pressure on the joints and discs of the lower back, and this can contribute to bouts of back pain. Be sure to review proper sitting posture with your child and solicit advice from your health care professional if unsure.
Backpacks can be a burden
According to many researchers, backpacks are a major contributor to back pain in school-aged children. Most children use backpacks that are too big for them, and they don’t wear them properly. They also fill their backpacks with too many items. The effect is an overload on the lower back joints and discs, an altered spinal curve and an increase in back pain. Be sure your child has a proper backpack. Your health care professional can provide tips on the correct type, size and usage of these bags for kids.
When your child suffers low back pain
Recurring bouts of back pain not only require treatment but also investigation regarding the cause of the symptoms and tips on how to prevent it. If your child reports an acute incidence of back pain, rest and ice should be considered as your first options to decrease the symptoms. If the pain persists past one or two days, you should take your child to a professional for an assessment. Irritation of the spinal joints, muscles and discs can be as much of a problem for a child as it can be for an adult. Treatment is important to reduce the risk of your child developing a more serious or chronic back issue.
Dr. Erika Hamer, DC, DIBCN, DIBE, is a chiropractic neurologist and the owner of Ponte Vedra Wellness Center, offering chiropractic care and related health and wellness services at offices in Ponte Vedra Beach and Nocatee Town Center.