While back pain is an issue generally associated with adults, it's also common in children and teenagers. The pain may occur in the upper, middle or lower back area. It may be limited to the back or may radiate down one or both legs.
Most cases of back pain result from strain on any of the back's many large and small muscles. Nerve and spinal cord problems, or conditions that affect the whole body, such as an infection, can also cause back pain.
For the first 48 hours after pain begins, children should rest and periodically apply ice to the area. After that, they can start applying heat and making gentle movements to slowly increase their range of motion without pain.
Sleeping on the side with a pillow between the knees may also ease back pain.
When first returning to sports, young athletes should avoid activities that involve changing direction.
Tips to prevent back pain include:
- Perform exercises to strengthen the core muscles, which include the low back and abdominal muscles.
- Stay in shape with aerobic conditioning. Young athletes should strive to maintain cardiovascular fitness throughout the year, not just during their regular sports season.
- Maintain good flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors and spine.