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Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Back Pain

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What Is Back Pain?

Anything that puts stress on the bones, tissues or nerves of the spine can make your child’s back hurt.

MRI Discitis

MRI of discitis. The typical intense inflammatory reaction seen on MRI may lead to over-treatment.

Children and teenagers may feel pain in their backs if they have been carrying something heavy, such as a backpack or a laundry basket. They may hurt their backs if they fall while running or playing or if they are injured during sports.

Usually, back pain in children is not caused by a serious condition. For most, the pain goes away after a few days of rest.

Back Pain in Children

All children can have back pain, but it is a less common problem in children who are younger than age 10. In young children, it is unusual for back pain to limit activity for more than a day or two.

An increasing number of teenagers complain of ongoing (chronic) back pain. Up to 30% of teens and 80% of adults will have periods when back pain is bad enough to limit their activities for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Research studies do not clearly tell us if carrying backpacks hurts children’s backs. We do know that both children and adults are less likely to have back pain if they do regular aerobic activity, such as running or playing hard enough to get out of breath, for a half-hour or so three or four times a week.

Back Pain at Seattle Children’s

Our Spine Program is known around the country for treating all kinds of spine problems in children, including upper and lower back pain. At Seattle Children’s, we take care to find out what is causing your child’s back pain. Our experts do a careful evaluation to understand your child’s condition, how it affects your child and whether it’s linked with other health concerns. We also consider your child’s needs based on their age because their body is still developing. The team from our Spine Program is trained not only to treat back pain, but also to care for growing patients.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Cold Water Shock Can Quickly Cause Drowning
  • E-Cigs Are Addictive and Harmful
  • Bystanders Can Intervene to Stop Bullying

Download Spring 2014 (PDF)