Is your teenager complaining of lower or upper back pain? Does she suffer from pain and discomfort while she sits down or bends over? If you nodded along, then you should consider reading our post below. Here, we talk about severe back pain in teens, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What Is Back Pain?
Back pain is any discomfort or ache along the spine. Back pain can intensify quickly or over a course of time. Lower back pain is rather common and is known as lumbago. Anyone can suffer from lower back pain irrespective of her age . In fact, lower back pain in teens is a rather common condition today .
Types Of Back Pain In Teens
Acute or intense back pain can typically last for a few weeks or months . Any pain that lasts for more than six months is a chronic back pain, and you need to visit the doctor if your teen has chronic back pain .
[ Read: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome In Teens ]
What Causes Back Pain In Teenagers:
Teen back pain can occur due to many reasons. Check out below:
Vigorous sports and activities such as football, tennis, weightlifting, gymnastics, and dancing can lead to spinal injuries. Injuries can result in spinal fractures or ruptures in the spinal disks.
Trauma from accidents can also lead to tissue ruptures. Such injuries can cause sprains that may heal in a short time or cause pain that can last for years .
2. Poor Posture:
Continually sitting for long hours, especially with a poor posture, can cause back pain in teenagers. Working/playing on computers or playing games on consoles also puts a strain on the shoulder muscles and the entire spinal column. Poor sleep posture can also result in back pain .
3. Heavy Schoolbags:
Children of all ages carry heavy school bags, which can put unnecessary load on their young bodies. It is one of the big reasons for back pain in teenagers.
Excess weight can put pressure on the back leading to pain.
Back pain during puberty is more common for females than males. Researchers believe that the back pain in girls during puberty is a symptom of the various anatomical changes they experience at this time .
6. Medical Conditions:
Many diseases can lead to back pain in teens. Here are some common ones:
It is not common for teenagers, but it can affect them and cause back pain. Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects soft tissues in the body. It causes muscle aches, sleep problems, and excessive fatigue; all of which can cause or aggravate back pain .
- Scheuermann’s Disease, Spondylolysis And Sciatica:
These three diseases can cause back pain in teens. Scheuermann’s disease is a vertebrae growth disorder that leads to humpback curvatures . Sciatica is sharp pain along the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. It begins in the lower back and runs along the buttocks to the legs . Spondylolysis is a vertebrae defect that can be congenital or occur due to injuries . Any defect in the vertebrae can also cause back pain.
Other health problems that can cause back pain in teenagers are kidney stones, tumors and infections. Back pain that worsens during nighttime can result from spinal tumors or infections .
[ Read: Symptoms Of Kidney Stones In Teens ]
Teenagers can experience stress due to family issues, peer pressure, troubles at school or health problems. Stress can lead to depression, fatigue and insomnia. All these factors can contribute to back pain in teens.
Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain In Teens:
Irrespective of the cause of teen back pain, symptoms are similar. Some of the common ones include:
- Persistent ache or stiffness in the back muscles
- Shooting or localized pain in any area of the back
- Difficulty in bending, sleeping or standing 
Diagnosing Back Pain In Teens:
The doctor may ask your child questions about her injuries, the intensity of the pain and physical activities.
The doctor may conduct tests to determine the reason for the back pain to confirm or rule out any medical condition. The tests may also be necessary to assess the injuries or fractures in the spine .
- Blood tests can confirm or rule out infections as the cause of back pain.
- X-rays can confirm fractures or misalignment of the spine.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans can reveal detailed information about back muscles, bones, nerves, ligaments, and tendons.
[ Read: Benefits Of Regular Exercises For Teens ]
Treating Back Pain In Teens:
The treatment for back pain may vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Back pain usually gets better with adequate rest. In case the pain is light, the doctor may even suggest your child to continue with normal activities .
2. Use Of Heat Or Ice:
In case the pain is light, use of ice packs or hot water bags on the affected area helps in relieving the symptoms .
3. Physical Therapy:
Mild stretching and other light aerobic activities aid in relieving back pain. Make sure your teen undergoes physical therapy from a certified physical therapist .
The doctor may prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil. Other medicines can include muscle relaxants, ointments, antidepressants and injections depending on the cause of the back pain. But make sure your child doesn’t take even OTC drugs without her doctor’s approval.
In rare cases, depending on individual patient histories such as problems in the spine curve or disk fractures, surgery may be the only treatment option available to relieve the back pain.
[ Read: Calcium Rich Foods For Teens ]
Preventing Back Pain In Teens:
With proper medical treatment and lifestyle changes, it is possible to manage the symptoms of back pain and even prevent its occurrence. Here are some preventive measures for reducing back pain in teens:
- Help your teen maintain a healthy weight. Encourage an active lifestyle with adequate aerobic activities such as running, swimming and cycling. Yoga also helps maintainin a healthy back.
- Help your child eat a healthy diet with adequate calcium for strong bones. Low-fat dairy products and eggs are good sources of calcium. Vitamin D is essential for proper absorption of calcium in the body. Sunlight synthesizes vitamin D in the body. Get your teenagers spend some time in the sun in a safe way such as avoiding the sun during afternoon and always using a sunscreen. Oily fish such a tuna and herring are good sources of vitamin D.
[ Read: Scoliosis In Teens ]
- Help your child maintain a good posture while sitting and sleeping. Using some pillows between legs can help prevent back pain from poor sleep posture. Using an ergonomic chair for long sitting hours can also help to prevent back pain .
If your teenager often experiences back pain or suffers from symptoms that last for a few days, then you should consult a doctor. With your support and proper treatment, your teen can bounce back from any back pain.
Has your teenager ever suffered from back pain? How did you help him manage the symptoms? Please share your experience with us.
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