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Back Pain

January 29, 2024 Staff

Topics - Pain Syndromes

Nature, Causes, and Treatment of Back Pain in Children

Back pain in children, while less common than in adults, can still occur and should be taken seriously, as it can sometimes indicate underlying medical issues. Here's an overview of back pain in children:


  • Muscular Strain or Injury: Often due to heavy backpacks, sports injuries, or poor posture.

  • Structural Problems: Such as scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) or spondylolisthesis (slipping of one vertebra over another).

  • Infections and Tumors: Though rare, infections like osteomyelitis (infection in the bones) or tumors can cause back pain.

  • Inflammatory Conditions: Like juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Psychosomatic Causes: Stress or psychological issues can manifest as physical back pain in some cases.

Symptoms to Monitor

  • Persistent or Intense Pain: Pain that doesn't improve with rest or continues for an extended period.

  • Night Pain: Pain that wakes the child from sleep.

  • Neurological Symptoms: Such as numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs.

  • Associated Symptoms: Fever, weight loss, or changes in bowel or bladder function.


  • Medical History and Physical Examination: To check for tenderness, range of motion, and neurological signs.

  • Imaging Tests: X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may be used to diagnose specific conditions.

  • Blood Tests: To look for signs of infection or inflammation.


  • Rest and Activity Modification: Avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain.

  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to strengthen back muscles and improve posture.

  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

  • Addressing Underlying Conditions: Specific treatments based on the underlying cause.

When to See a Doctor

  • Severe Pain: Especially if it limits daily activities.

  • Symptoms of a Serious Condition: Such as fever, unexplained weight loss, or neurological symptoms.

  • Not Improving with Home Care: If pain persists despite rest and over-the-counter pain relief.


The prognosis for back pain in children is generally good, especially when the underlying cause is identified and properly treated. Most cases of simple back strain improve with rest and conservative care. However, it's crucial to address any underlying conditions early to prevent complications.

In any case of back pain in children, it's important to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Early intervention can help alleviate pain and address any potential issues promptly.

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