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A correct posture will prevent back pain in children

10 January 2023

Back pain in children is much more common than one might think, says Dr. Javier Terrazo Lluch, neurosurgery specialist at ABC Medical Center. Different studies have shown that between 28% and 48% of children have some type of back pain and this percentage increases as they reach adolescence.

It is estimated that only one-third of children with back pain go to a doctor for care.

Musculoskeletal disorders comprise more than 150 disorders that affect the locomotor system. They range from sudden and short-term disorders, such as fractures, sprains, and strains, to chronic diseases that cause permanent limitations of functional capacities and disability.1

Among the main reasons that can cause back pain in children is muscle contraction, which is generally associated with poor posture or spinal hygiene. Activities such as spending more than two hours hunched over a desk or sitting awkwardly when playing video games or watching television can cause this pain; also carrying a lot of weight or even growth spurt.

The spine is a whole dynamic system with curvatures, says Dr. Terrazzo, and during growth spurts, the surrounding muscles can contract, causing pain.

What is postural health?

Spine health can be divided into two large areas:

  • Having a good posture

To maintain an adequate posture of the spine, a horizontal axis must be sought, with an adequate lateral balance, and, above all, avoid situations where the spine is forced, such as standing on your toes.

  • Performing movements properly

There are different movements that, if not performed correctly, can cause back pain. This includes standing, where the spine should be straight, with no imbalance, and with the feet discreetly apart, this will allow you to maintain a straight line.

When sitting down, the child should be in a comfortable chair, their feet should be completely flat on the floor and their knees should be at a 90° angle, while their back should be supported by the back of the chair.

On the other hand, if the child must be seated in front of a computer or monitor, it should be at the level of the face, but at a level below the visual line and about 40 centimeters away, following the other indications to sit correctly.

At bedtime, it is recommended that they sleep on their side or face up, and always use a cushion or pillow that maintains the alignment of the cervical spine, allowing the neck axis to be straight.

To pick things up from the ground, the child must bend both knees to pick up the object, or they can place one knee bent at 90° and the other at ground level before pushing up. Something that should always be avoided is bending at the waist while keeping the knees extended since the localized pressure on the lower back can cause pain.

Using a backpack can also result in back pain. Dr. Terrazo says that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the weight of the backpack should not be more than 10% of the child’s weight. For its transport, the optimal thing is that the two straps are used, this allows to distribute the weight equally and that the spine does not bend to one side or the other.

The existence of back pain in children is not a situation that should be taken lightly, since it can limit daily activities, school performance, or sports practice.

At ABC Medical Center’s Pediatrics and Neurology Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!

Dr. Javier Terrazo Lluch  – neurosurgery specialist at ABC Medical Center.
1 https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/musculoskeletal-conditions

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