May also be called: Lumbago
Back pain is fairly common, even in kids and teens. It can occur anywhere in the back, and might be a dull ache or a sharp, shooting pain.
Back pain often is caused by muscle strain or sprain, often from an injury or wearing a heavy backpack. Incorrect backpack use can affect posture and cause bones of the spine to press on or pinch the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
Less commonly, back pain can be caused by a fracture (break) in a vertebra (spine bone) or slipping of vertebrae on each other. This happens more often in kids and teens who engage in back-bending activities, like gymnastics.
Stiffness and pain in the lower back, sometimes called lumbago, can be caused by things like lifting heavy objects or sitting in one position for too long. It usually will go away on its own within a few days or weeks, and in the meantime can be managed by staying active and taking short-term medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to control pain.
Treatment, if needed, will depend on the cause of the pain. Minor pain can be managed by applying a heating pad or hot pack to the area or with gentle massage.
If an overloaded backpack is to blame, kids and teens can reduce back strain by:
Many cases of back pain can be prevented by stretching before and after physical activities, getting regular low-impact exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding heavy lifting. But if pain persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, call your doctor.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Backpack Safety America (BSA) This website is dedicated to teaching parents, teachers, kids, and others the importance of properly packing, lifting, and carrying backpacks.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Safety Tips: Gymnastics Gymnastics is a great sport and a fun way to get a muscular, toned body. But, it also presents a very real risk of injury. To keep things safe during practice and competition, follow these tips.|
|Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Lumbar Spine A lumbar spine MRI is a painless test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the bones, disks, and other structures in the lower back.|
|Is It OK to Carry a Backpack on Just One Shoulder If You Switch Shoulders Every Day? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Backpack Basics Backpacks help you to stay organized. They're also better for carrying school supplies than messenger or other shoulder bags. But can they cause health problems?|
|Backpack Safety As practical as they are, backpacks can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they're too heavy or are used incorrectly. Here's how to help kids find the right backpack.|
|Backpacks A backpack is an essential item for a kid in school, but research shows that they can cause injuries. Find out how to prevent your backpack from becoming a real pain.|
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