Children and young adults typically have fewer reasons to complain of lower back and neck pains compared to adults. So if your child, for example, would let you know about a nagging or recurring pain in these areas one day, it would be prudent to take immediate action in order to identify the problem and begin a recommended treatment program to ensure that no serious problems are neglected and left to worsen.
Neck pain generally refers to stiffness and inflexibility in the neck, while back pain — true low back pain — pertains to pain felt between the buttocks and the lower rib cage, which can sometimes extend down to the knee area. If any tingling, numbness or weakness in the legs is present, then neurologic structures may be potentially irritated as well.
What kinds of pain can a child or young adult experience?
Spontaneous pains are back and neck pains that are not related to specific injuries. If the child says the pain is persistent, he should be taken for a medical evaluation that can include x-rays, CT scans or MRI, and blood tests (these tests serve to eliminate the possibility of serious medical problems like tumors in nerve tissues or bones, infections, systemic diseases, or inflammatory conditions).
A doctor can prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants if necessary, or a physical therapist can explore modalities such as hot or cold treatments, ultrasound therapy, massage, or TENS.
Pains caused by injuries, like sprains and strains or fractures that stem from accidents, should be investigated thoroughly by the right professionals (like an orthopedic specialist) who can assess the spine and recommend the right treatment protocol. The application of ice packs can help relieve pain and limit swelling and inflammation.
Back and neck pains in children may also be caused by deformities in some cases, like increased kyphosis. Scoliosis, typically, would not be a source of pain for a patient. If a deformity is present, the patient must be examined thoroughly so that the right medical aid or device, like a brace, can be worn to facilitate effective treatment.
Non-surgical solutions for children
Children and young adults will, quite often, not require invasive procedures to achieve relief from their condition.
One of the more recommended options they can turn to is to visit a specialist in physical therapy Neck and back pains that are non-specific will mostly require rest and a change in activity. Children and young adults tend to develop poor posture from carrying heavy backpacks in an incorrect manner; being mindful about using both shoulder straps, or performing alternative tasks like making more trips to their school lockers, can do a great deal to ease the burden on their shoulders and reduce back and neck pain.
In some cases, children and young adults can also benefit from speaking with a psychologist or school counsellor, as they can experience non-specific back and neck pain when they are feeling anxious or depressed, or having trouble at home, school, or with their peers.
In conjunction with these, a physical therapist prescribe specific treatments and exercises that should be incorporated into the patient’s daily routine, such as back and abdominal or core strengthening, posture training, proper body and lifting mechanics, and avoidance of movements that can aggravate the pain.