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About 1 in 3 Adolescents Report Back Pain, Research Shows

Statistics show that close to one in three adolescents report back pain, according to new findings published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

During their research, the study authors found that even with advanced and expensive tests, including MRI scans, they were not always able to determine the exact cause of the pain.

"If your history, physical exam or simple tests reveal a diagnosis or problem, this can be treated early and you will probably be able to return to your activities or sport," said lead study author and orthopaedic surgeon Suken A. Shah, MD, division chief at Nemours Spine and Scoliosis Center, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. For nearly two thirds of adolescent patients, clinical physical examination and imaging may not produce clear cause for their back pain. "It could be from a muscle strain, poor posture, too much training in a single sport or multiple sports in the same season, or the opposite--too little activity and not enough exercise."

There are different types of back pain that can mean different things. For instance, typically dull and achy lower-back pain can easily get better with rest and anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. However, if back pain lasts for longer periods involving the abdomen, low back and hips, physical therapy may be necessary. Pain that involves weakness, numbness or pain that shoots down a leg when an individual sleeps or that gets worse over a number of days may also require more serious medical attention.

Maintaining proper posture, good core muscle strength and flexibility as well as regularly exercising and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can help reduce the risk of back problems.

However, here are the most common "diagnosable" causes of back pain for both children and adults, courtesy of the release:

• stress fracture(s) in the low back (spondylolysis); • instability or a forward shift of the lower spine above the tailbone (spondylolisthesis); • poor posture like slouching forward or a rigid hump in the back from a spinal bone problem (kyphosis); • overuse injuries from poor conditioning or overtraining; • disk herniation; and, • infection

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