Back Pain in Children: Eye-Opening Statistics + Back Care Tips


A child’s back is still in its development stage. If your child has been complaining of persistent back pain, it should be taken seriously. Children can only cope with a certain degree of back stress without causing damage. What’s causing back pain among children? Studies have revealed the number one culprit their heavy backpacks in school!

Alarming Statistics on Back Pain in Children

To better understand the implication of back pain in children, we bring you some of the alarming statistics. Children’s back pain should be addressed as soon as possible to help them grow into adults with a healthy spine.

  • 75% of children between the ages of 8 to 12 years complain of back pain, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • 96% of children in school are carrying way too much on their backs
  • About 5,000 children go to the emergency room yearly for backpack injuries. More than 14,000 children are treated for related problems.
  • Around 60% of orthopedic doctors report they are treating children who go to school for back pain due to heavy backpacks

Imagine this. If your child weighs 60 pounds and carries around a backpack weighing 15 pounds and puts it down at least 10 times during the school day, he or she is repeated lifting one-fourth of his or her body weight. The problem can get even more terrifying if a child has a muscle strain, stress fracture, or scoliosis. The load they carry can aggravate their conditions and postpone their healing. So, what should parents and guardians do to help their children not add any further damage to their fragile, growing spines?

Steps to Help Children Avoid Back Pain

Not only do children miss school due to heavy backpack use, but they also skip physical education classes, after-school events, and summer camps. David Marshall, medical director of sports medicine at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, suggests parents check the bags of their children. Books and stuff that are not needed for the day can be left at home. He also recommends bringing your child to specialists for evaluation of the back muscles, posture, and core strength.

Rolling bags are not the best option. They may be popular in some locations, but there are dangers to using them. Some students must maneuver stairways. The bags can also pose a tripping hazard as they are placed in the hallway or classroom, or being tugged along behind a child.

Marshall shares these tips to help your child lighten their load:

  • Make sure your child only carries important stuff to school and is not bringing extra items like laptops or video games.
  • Choose a backpack that has a chest belt or a padded waist belt as it distributes the weight more evenly across the entire body.
  • Your child’s backpack should never be wider than his or her body.
  • It’s better if your child’s backpack has two wide straps with padding over the shoulders. Ask your child to always use both straps.
  • Getting a backpack with multiple compartments is also better to distribute the weight more consistently.
  • Your child’s backpack should never go over 15% of his body weight. Use a scale to measure it, and teach your child what this weight should feel like.
  • Metal framed backpacks often used by hikers are an excellent choice, but this may increase the total weight of the backpack. Be sure it’s acceptable at your child’s school.
  • Place the heavy items closer to the body in the backpack.
  • Teach your child how to correctly pick up the backpack by bending at the knees and using both hands to lift the bag to the shoulders.
  • Encourage regular exercise to help your child develop strong lower back and abdominal muscles.

Here’s a quick backpack inspection checklist to secure the health of your child’s back:

  • Abdominal strap in place
  • Heavier books placed closest to the back
  • Both shoulder straps with padding being used
  • A well-lined and padded backpack
  • No more than 10-15% of body weight
  • Weight of backpack not below the pant line

Get Rid of Back Pain with a Professional’s Help

Is your child’s spine healthy? It’s easy to assume your child’s spine is in good shape, but that is not always the case. Only doctors and professionals can accurately determine that. It only takes a minor accident as simple as a trip and fall to damage the upper cervical spine. Since your child’s spine is still developing, an injury now may result in a lifetime of problems if the problem is not addressed.

Upper cervical chiropractors can help young patients by evaluating the neck and back for any existing misalignments. If they find something that needs to be corrected, they use a gentle and safe method to help realign the vertebrae. Upper cervical chiropractic care is a natural method that encourages the bones to return into place by using mild pressure. Ensure the health of your child’s spine by visiting a chiropractic doctor near you.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.