With the beginning of the school year just around the corner, students are starting to hunt for the perfect back-to-school backpack. However, backpacks can be a significant factor in a student’s back pain. Research is necessary to determine which backpack your child should use this school year. According to surgeons, between 75 and 85 percent of people will experience some sort of back pain in their life.
Back pain is very common and can have many different causes that are not due to underlying diseases. Back pain can be caused by improper lifting, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, poor posture, or wearing a poorly fitted backpack.
Back pain is more common as you age. While back pain is more common in older people, it can still greatly affect teens and students. From an early age, students are required to carry heavy textbooks, binders, and other school supplies in their backpacks for an entire school year. Carrying a heavy backpack daily for an entire school year can significantly contribute to a student’s back pain. Knowing tips about backpack safety can ensure your child doesn’t experience any unnecessary back pain this year.
Common Symptoms of Back Pain:
It may be hard to move or straighten your back
• Increased pain with bending or lifting
• Worsening pain when sitting or resting
• Pain that travels from the back to the buttocks, legs, or hips
According to a study published in a medical journal, carrying a heavy backpack can cause compression of discs in the lower back as well as cause deterioration in the lumbar region, which can result in excruciating back pain.
A WebMD article states that among students who reported back pain,
• 21% said their pain lasted more than six months
• 16% said they had missed school, gym class, or after-school sports because of the pain
• Almost 17% said they had seen a doctor for their pain
Dr. Erica Goldman, a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation recommends that students’ backpacks should not exceed 10% of a person’s body weight. However, the study reveals that students are carrying backpacks that weigh 15% to 20% of their body weight. You can read more about Dr. Goldman’s comments here.
Once your child has found a backpack that fits them and their body types properly, here are a few tips for additional back safety.
Backpack Safety Tips for Kids of All Sizes:
• Use both shoulder straps
• Tighten the shoulder straps
• Rest the backpack in the middle of the back
• Pack heavy stuff in the bottom
• Carry only what’s necessary each day
Click here to read more back-protecting tips for kids.
Physical Therapy for Back Pain
While carrying a backpack significantly contributes to students’ pain, some students may still endure pain despite these helpful tips.
Action should be taken as soon as the pain begins. Although it may be tempting to let your child spend the entire day on the couch if they are experiencing back pain, physical therapy and exercise can sometimes be the most effective ways to relieve discomfort. Before starting physical therapy or any workout regimen, always have a professional’s approval.
Having said that, when back pain is persistent and interferes with normal activities, physical therapy may be necessary. Be pared to discuss your symptoms and what movements make your symptoms better or worse. Our physical therapist will examine your posture, range of motion, and strength, before a specific treatment plan will be devised and started.