Early Back Pain – Causes and Recommendations for Reducing Early Back Pain

Although back pain is common in older adolescents, it is not as common in younger adoloscents and may be a sign of a more serious problem, such as spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, a sport’s injury, or a tumor or infection. Early back pain seen in youths do not typically appear in the disc as seen in adults where most cases of acute low back pain are caused by damages of some sort to the intervertebral discs.

What is Spondylolisthesis
If a fracture on both sides of a spinous process occur either because the bone does not fuse properly and/or it fails to withstand the stress that is placed on it, this will lead to a condition known as spondylolisthesis. This condition will cause the body of the vertebra to slip anteriorly (in a frontward direction) over the vertebra below. This kind of injury usually occurs at the lumbosacral junction, L5/S1 (ie. slippage of L5 over S1).

It is believed that the cause of spondylolisthesis can also be genetically related. However, stresses resulting from a trauma, participation in activities such as weight lifting or gymnastics can also contribute to the cause of spondylolisthesis.

Early Back Pain Due to Heavy Backpacks
There seems to be an increase in the incidence of early back pain seen in children due to heavy book bags, based on a study appearing in the journal of Pediatrics Orthopaedics. According to this research, of the children who reported back pain, 82% believed their backpack either caused or worsened their back pain. This study concluded that the weights of students’ backpacks seem directly proportional to the likelihood of back pain.

There are several recommendations provided below to reduce the risk of young adolescents’ back pain
1.Both straps of the backpack should be worn at all times.
2. Backpacks should always have padded shoulder straps.
4. Wear only well fitted or properly fitted backpacks.
5. Backpacks should not be overloaded, and students should only carry items that are needed for a particular day.

Additionally, students should try to adhere to either the French Bureau of Education/ the American chiropractic Association recommendation which states that backpacks should not weight greater than 10% of the a student’s body weight; or the American Physical Therapy Association which states that backpacks should weigh no more than 15-20% of a student’s body weight.

Based on all the above information on early back pain, your child’s heavy backpack is not always responsible for the back pain he/she might be experiencing, especially if the pain is very chronic or if it persisted even after you have lessened the weight of the child’s backpack. You should also consider spondylolisthesis, as it’s a condition often seen in many college football linemen. It has been cited also as the most likely cause of low back pain in patients under 26 years of age. It is seldom the cause of low back pain in older adults, in particularly those over the age of 40.

Spondylolisthesis: Anterior Slippage of L5 over S1

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