Because children and teenagers are more flexible, back pain is not as
common in this age group as it is in adults. Only about 1 in 4 young
competitive athletes and 1 in 6 young recreational athletes will have
occasional back pain. Back pain in a child that occurs immediately after an
injury or an athletic event should be checked by a doctor.
Back pain in children and teens may also be caused by an overuse
injury. Children or their parents may not be able to remember when the back
problem started or to recall an injury or change in activity that triggered the
back problem. Carrying a heavy backpack may increase a child's chances of a
back problem or injury.
Back pain that is severe enough to limit a child's activity or that
lasts for 2 weeks or longer needs to be checked by a doctor.
Back conditions that affect children and teens
Pain that is made worse by specific movements, such as handsprings in gymnastics, the butterfly stroke in swimming, or contact
sports, may be caused by
spondylolisthesis. Young athletes with low back pain
have a higher-than-average incidence of spondylolysis. These injuries are
usually caused by activity and overuse.
Scheuermann's disease causes pain that is not severe enough to limit activity. It is
the second most common cause of back pain in children and young adults. Your
child may have a rounded spine.
Back pain that is
present with changes in balance or coordination may be caused by a problem in
the brain or spinal cord.
Children sometimes imitate the behavior and symptoms of adults and
older children in the family. Symptoms may be caused by other problems they are
having in the home or at school. When these problems are present, it is
important to help the child and family find appropriate counseling and
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.