Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z Symptom: Back Pain

May also be called: Lumbago

Back pain is common, even in kids and teens. It can happen anywhere along the back, and might be a dull ache, a crampy feeling, or a sharp, shooting pain.

What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain often is caused by muscle strain or sprain, often from an injury. Another cause is wearing a heavy backpack — this can affect posture and cause bones of the spine to press on or pinch the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.

Stiffness and pain in the lower back can be caused by things like lifting heavy objects or sitting in one position for too long.

Sometimes back pain is the result of a fracture (break) in a spine bone (vertebra) or when vertebrae slip into each other. This is rare but can happen in kids and teens who do back-bending activities, like gymnastics.

How Is Back Pain Treated?

Back pain often goes away on its own. Minor pain can be eased by applying a heating pad or warm pack to the area or with gentle massage. 

If an overloaded backpack is to blame, reduce back strain by:

  • choosing a backpack with two wide shoulder straps and a padded back
  • making sure kids don’t carry a backpack that heavier than 10%–15% of their body weight

Lower back stiffness usually will go away on its own within a few days or weeks. Until then, it can be managed by staying active and taking short-term medicines (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to control pain.

But if back pain lasts or is happens along with other symptoms, call your doctor.

What Else Should I Know About Back Pain?

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.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.


Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts

What next?

By using this site, you consent to our use of cookies. To learn more, read our privacy policy.

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.