Back Pain in Teenagers – Causes and Treatment

Commonly, the underlying cause of problems to the back of teenagers is trauma or injury due to falls, play, sports or some extraordinary stress or strain for example due to carrying a heavy backpack. Stiffness to the back muscles happens most commonly due to straining of the ligaments or pulling of back muscles. In teenagers and young adolescents, the symptoms of backache are usually gone away within ten to twelve days without any particular treatment.

Possible Causes of Back Pain in Teens

Following are some potential causes that may cause pain the teenagers

Spondylosis

The teenagers who are more competitive in sporting events can suffer from some types of back injuries which may result in the happening of spondylosis. It is a defect of intervertebral joints in the vertebral column and most commonly takes place in the individuals who more frequently hyperextend their backs for example gymnasts. Any stress fracture may happen due to this practice. This fracture may heal after 4 to 6 weeks.

Spondylolisthesis

It is a condition in which one of the intervertebral discs gets slipped upon the other one. It can cause instability and severe back pain in teens. This condition may need spinal fusion surgery for complete pain relief.

Injury

Teens that tend to overburden their vertebral columns via gymnasts or other high-intensity sports, they transmit force to their vertebral bones and thus, chances of back injury are enhanced. Disc injury may also happen to cause severe back pain.

Arthritis

Although this condition is not much common in teens, yet it may happen specifically in the individuals having any type of nutritional deficiency. The first presentation of arthritis is back pain.

Warning Signs of Back Pain in Teens

Some of the warning signs for back pain in the teenager individuals are following. If any of the sign is present, it demonstrates serious investigations:

  • Pain during sleeping at night. Specifically, the pain which awakens you from sleep
  • Constant symptoms of aches
  • Signs and symptoms of generalized or systemic body illness like weight loss, malaise, fever, and chills
  • If symptoms persist for months
  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs

Risk Factors for Back Pain

Following are the risk factors for back pain in the teenagers:

Hereditary

Some types of back pain have a genetic predisposition, for example, intervertebral disc diseases have familial preponderance.

Diet

Diet also has an impact on back conditions. The individuals who take a high-fat diet and lead a sedentary lifestyle, have more tendency to become obese. Extra weight puts more pressure to the vertebral column and thus chances of back pain are aggravated.

Fitness Level

The individuals who are more fit, have less tendency to develop back pain because of good health and proper blood circulation to the back muscles and ligaments. The individuals who are not physically active, are more prone to develop backache.

When to Seek a Doctor

You must immediately seek a specialist doctor if you have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain that is not settled by conventional painkillers
  • Pain that is continuously aggravating with the passage of time
  • When you feel difficulty in moving upper or lower extremities
  • When bowel or bladder continence or incontinence happens
  • When you feel any alteration in your posture or gait.

Diagnosis of Back Pain

The doctor makes the diagnosis after taking a good history and performing a good physical examination. If necessary, your doctor may also recommend you’re certain investigations to finalize the diagnosis. These investigations include:

  • X-Ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Bone scan
  • Electromyography or EMG

Treatment

Back pain usually disappears by taking proper rest and home remedies but in resistant cases, medical intervention is needed.

Home Based Treatments

There are several remedies to relieve pain at home. Over the counter painkillers can be used for temporary pain relief. Commonly used painkillers are NSAIDs , i.e. aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. Acetaminophen is also a good pain reliever (but please don’t take any medicine without consulting your doctor).

Hot and cold therapy also has good outcomes. You can use either a hot compressor or cold compressor for 20 minutes. Heat application enhances the blood flow to the affected area and thus pain is minimized. The cold application causes the reduction in inflammation and thus sensations of pain are decreased. You can use an ice pack as a cold compressor and a warm water bottle as a hot compressor.

Physical Therapy

You may take advice from a professional physical therapist for exercises which may lessen your back pain. The physical therapist may suggest your flexibility and strength training exercises. Techniques for the correction of posture also result in a healthy outcome. The patient must perform these exercises even after the pain has been resolved.