Does Your Child Complain of Back Pain? Core Weakness May Be the Contributing Factor and PT Can Help!
Do you find your child complaining of aches, pains, or soreness in his/her back?
The pain may come and go and is tolerable, but is generally uncomfortable?
If this is the case, you may need to seek out physical therapy for your child’s severe pain.
It is well known that the average individual will suffer from back pain, particularly low back pain at one point in their lives.
Many people believe older adults will be the main sufferers from back pain as they get weaker and more sedentary. However, back pain can originate earlier in life than you may have previously thought. It can be a sign of what’s to come if not taken care of correctly in the youth years. Back pain may start out localized, but over time it can spread. Neck pain, knee pain, elbow pain – issues don’t always start and stop at their point of origin. It doesn’t always start because of an underlying condition, but treating this pain with orthopedic physical therapy is a common solution.
According to a study done in 2013, adolescents (0-18 yrs. of age) have a 33% chance of developing low back pain, which can last throughout their lifetime. This same study reported that females have a higher likelihood of developing low back pain compared to males, regardless of age. This is in addition to other conditions that commonly impact women more than men, leading to severe pain. Overall reported numbers on this subject vary. Previous studies show that anywhere from 1.1 to 66% of adolescents are affected by low back pain.
Other studies, such as that performed by Balague et al. in 2012, show that low back pain rates in teenagers are similar to that of adults. This same study also found that only a few teenagers reported being completely pain-free from any low back pain in the time leading up to their study.
So why is a generally active and healthy adolescent developing back pain? Several factors cause back pain. Read on to find out more!
Core weakness is a strong contributing factor.
Now, what is core weakness, or rather what is the core you may ask?
Core muscles are described as abdominal muscles that provide stability to our trunk and low back. The primary stabilizing muscle is the transversus abdominis. This muscle is helped out by the internal and external oblique muscles to maintain stability. These muscles are shown and described in the pictures below.
Learning More About Core Weakness in Adolescents
Weakness of these muscles can be the result of a sedentary lifestyle, such as not performing or participating in physical activity and poor posture. As a result of our youths’ current lifestyle with modern technology, kids are spending more and more time sitting hunched over in front of computers, iPhones, and televisions. Kids are no longer developing and maintaining their core stability through natural play activities. And researchers believe that core weakness can be caused by these lifestyle changes. It’s sometimes caused by chronic pain conditions, too – but this isn’t as common.
A study performed in 2015 looked at potential risk factors for developing non-specific injury low back pain in adolescents. Their findings showed a few things correlated with developing low back pain.
1. Tight hamstrings muscle group (muscles in the back of our thigh/leg)
2. No participation in sports
3. Prolonged sitting time during entertainment activities
The above article stressed the importance of participating in some sort of physical activity. Specific physical activity does not have to be sport specific. It just has to be some sort of physical activity. This means as long as kids spend more time outside, playing tag, or swimming with friends, their core muscles can develop and stay strong.
So it is very important, now more than ever, that we motivate our youth to participate in some level of physical activity. Seeing a physical therapist may not seem normal for children, but it’s more common than you think.
Physical Therapy Lessens the Impact of Severe Chronic Pain
Research shows that as long as kids stay active their risk of developing low back pain decreases.
This is most likely due to the development of appropriate core muscle strength. If your child is complaining of low back pain or discomfort, physical therapy can help. It is important to see a physical therapist sooner than later, before the pain increases and becomes intolerable.
This teaches your child how to:
- Engage their core muscles
- Teach appropriate exercises to perform on a regular basis
- Educate regarding proper posture and participation in physical activities
You can find and schedule a physical therapy appointment online easily without a doctor’s prescription.
Hopefully, with the spring and summer months approaching, you can urge your youth to get outside and perform more physical activity. In the meantime, be proactive about taking them to physical therapy so that they can develop appropriate core strength and combat back pain or discomfort. Back pain isn’t fun – no matter what your age is. Your children don’t need to live with this pain day in and day out, so do something about it.
You can find Mark Romano and The Physical Therapy & Wellness Institute through the BetterPT clinic location tool website or by downloading the BetterPT mobile app. These options also give you access to hundreds of other quality physical threrapy clinics in your area! Many of the clinics within this network offer virtual sessions via the BetterTelehealth platform.