Adolescent Back Pain: Should You Be Concerned for it?

Does your teen or adolescent complain of frequent lower back pain? While back pain can be a sign of a significant medical condition, according to a study published this month in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine adolescent back pain is quite common and is usually not associated with a serious, underlying medical problem.

To verify this hypothesis, researchers looked at a diverse population of 1,470 teenagers to determine how frequently they experienced back pain. Surprisingly, sixty-six percent of teenagers reported problems with back pain in the past thirty days. Despite experiencing back discomfort, they reported that the pain didn’t interfere with their ability to carry out their normal, day to day activities.

The researchers concluded that adolescent back pain is a common symptom and if infrequent and not associated with other symptoms, usually doesn’t require medical attention. The conclusion was that certain aches and pains are a normal part of growing up and usually doesn’t indicate serious pathology. According to their research, adolescents who complain of whole body pain in addition to lower back pain are more likely to have pain that’s medically significant and needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

Of course, in some cases adolescent back pain can indicate a serious medical problem or a treatable condition. In most of these cases the back pain will be associated with other symptoms that should raise a red flag. If lower back pain is associated with increased urinary frequency, burning, or blood in the urine, a urinary tract infection may be the cause. Urinary tract infections are not uncommon, particularly in teenage girls.

Occasionally, spinal problems can cause adolescent back pain. If a teenager is athletic and experiences symptoms when performing his or her sport, a physician should be consulted to rule out spondylolysis, a defect in the vertebrae that can lead to small stress fractures. It’s important that this condition be diagnosed early and treated with rest to avoid damage to the spine.

Sometimes lifestyle issues can play a role in adolescent back pain. Carrying heavy back packs loaded with books combined with poor posture can cause back discomfort. If a teenager is carrying excess weight and leads a sedentary lifestyle, he or she may be at particularly high risk of mechanical back pain. In these cases, exercises to strengthen the back muscles and improve posture may be helpful.

In rare cases, adolescent back pain can be caused by more serious conditions such as a tumor or herniated disc. For this reason, if back pain persists or is associated with symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the feet, fever, headache, weight loss, history of injury, or if the pain persists beyond three weeks, the teen should be seen by a doctor. A visit to the spine specialist, Joshua S. Rovner can be made through the person. The results of the checkup will be long-lasting for the patients. All the medical history should be disclosed through the person to the specialists. 

The good news is most adolescent back pain isn’t due to serious causes, but it’s important to be aware of any other associated symptoms that may indicate potential problems.

About Oblena

Janica Oblena is the writer of ‘Midnight Secrets’. She is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Journalism. She is currently the senior editor of
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