Backache in children is not like back pain in grown-ups. A kid with back pain is more likely to have a serious underlying disorder. Red flags at any age have back pain accompanied by:
- Fever or weight loss
- Continuous pain affecting activities
- Difficulty in walking
- Pain in both legs
- Urinary or bowel complaints
- Pain that keeps the child from sleeping
Common causes of backache in children:
Muscle Strain –
The musculoskeletal strain is most often responsible for back pain in children and adolescents along with tight thigh muscles known as ‘hamstrings’.
Stress Fracture of the Spine –
Also called ‘Spondylolysis’, it is a very common condition in athletic children, especially bowlers, footballers, gymnasts, etc. It can also lead to slipping of vertebra.
Rounded Back –
In adolescents, increased roundness of the back (when viewed from the side) — also called Scheuermann’s kyphosis — is a common cause of pain in the middle of the back (the thoracic spine).
In young children, infection in the disk space (diskitis) can lead to back pain. Tuberculosis is a common type of infection in the pediatric spine.
On rare occasions, tumors, such as osteoid osteoma, can be responsible for back pain.
Testing and Diagnosis
Your child will be examined for the back pain by the pediatric spine surgeon who will conduct a thorough medical examination and family history. The surgeon will evaluate the integrity of the vertebrae, nerves as well as muscle functioning and balance. Depending upon the cause and necessity, one or more of the imaging tests will be performed. It may include Xrays, Bone-scans, CT-Scans, MRI-Scans or PET-Scan.
The management will depend upon the cause and options range from conservative management including physical therapy to operative intervention as deemed suitable by the Pediatric Spine surgeon.