Back Pain in Students
August 25, 2011 11:33 AM | Tagged as American Physical Therapy Association, back pain, back to school, backpacks, neck pain, physical therapist, Premiere Physical Therapy, rehabilitation, shoulder pain, spine
As another school year starts, kids are eager to get back to class. There are many great things about the start of school. There is the excitement about a new teacher, learning new things, seeing old friends and meeting new classmates. By now, most parents have finished back to school shopping and purchased all the necessary supplies. There are #2 pencils, ink pens, lined notebook paper and pocket folders, but the most important decision of the year is buying the proper backpack for your young students. Let's see if your purchase makes the grade!
Backpacks come in all sizes, colors, fabrics and shapes and help kids of all ages express their own personal sense of style. Many packs feature multiple compartments that help students stay organized while they tote their books and papers from home to school and back again. Almost every child seems to carry one in some form or another.
While backpacks are one of the most convenient ways to carry books and school supplies, an overloaded and/or improperly worn backpack gets a failing grade, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Recent studies have reported that up to 64% of school aged children suffer from back pain. Although many factors can lead to back pain, some kids have backaches because they are lugging around their entire locker's worth of books, school supplies and assorted personal items all day long.
To help understand how heavy backpacks can affect a child's body, it helps to understand how the back works. The spine is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae, and between the vertebrae are discs that act as natural shock absorbers. When a heavy weight, such as a backpack filled with books, is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight's force can pull a child backward. To compensate, a child may bend forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. The heavy weight causes a lot of children to develop shoulder, neck and back pain.
"The extra stress placed on the spine and shoulders from heavy loads is causing children to develop adult-like back problems," said Dr. Christine Ho, a pediatric orthopedic specialist at Children's Medical Center and assistant professor of Orthopedic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "The most common injuries are muscle strains and, in extreme cases, slipped discs. Some injuries could lead to long term conditions if not avoided."
There have been increasing reports of childhood back pain for the last several years. The Consumer Product Commission has found that every year, more than 10,000 children ages 5 to 14 see their doctors with backpack-related complaints. By the end of their teen years, more than 50% of youths experience at least one low back pain episode, and research indicates that this increase may be due to improper backpack use.
While these numbers may be alarming, what matters most is that your child may be one suffering from pain caused by improper backpack use. Premiere Physical Therapy can help your child feel better through our "Spine Rehabilitation Program." Ask their doctor for a referral to Premiere Physical Therapy. It is your choice where you want to go for treatment! As always, our therapists will give you one on one attention with one goal, when we're done, "LIFE FEELS BETTER!"
Next week we will give you some useful tips on how to keep your child safe while using a backpack...
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