Are children backpacks the leading cause of back pain in youth?

Our kids have to carry a large load on their backs everyday for almost 14 years, even though text books are getting smaller over time they aren’t getting any less lighter for your 5 year old to bear. If your child complains about how heavy his/her backpack is when they go to school, the reason might be very legitimate and not because they just want you to carry it for them all the way up to the doorsteps.

 

In 2013 alone, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cited 5,415 backpack-related injuries treated at emergency rooms. That’s an alarming number of young children that are being treated for injuries relating to something that most of us overlook. The injuries relating to backpacks range from acute back pain to chronic back pain to other types of damage.

 

Dr. Karen Jacobs a clinical professor of occupational therapy at Boston University and an expert on school ergonomics says “Wearing a backpack incorrectly or wearing one that’s too heavy can be a contributing risk factor for discomfort, fatigue, muscle soreness, and pain, especially in the lower back.”

 

While backpacks are an essential part of a child’s school regime it is always recommended to make sure that the weight of the backpack is not so much that it causes the child to hunch down to support it. Most parents overlook the fact that backpacks are on your child for a large period of time and over the course of a year can result in bad posture and further injuries, which are never a good sign at such a young age.

 

Dr. Jacobs also added “Injury can occur when a child is trying to adapt to the heavy load by using improper postures, such as leaning forward, arching the back, and leaning to one side.” Therefore it is also the parent’s responsibility to check if your child is struggling with their backpack weights. Taking your child’s health and posture is a priority, so the next time your child complains how heavy their backpack is make sure to observe their posture and maybe try to lift it to check if it causes you any discomfort holding it with your hands. If that is the case, your child may need to cut down on the books they’re carrying and consider getting a locker in school.

 

Finally another piece of advice to add on to the findings of Dr. Jacobs is that parents should consider purchasing ergonomic bags with padded straps that take of weight load from the shoulder significantly. While back pain in children is still not as common as that in adults, it is a serious issue that has to be addressed by both parents and educational institutions alike.

A guide to understanding stress and back pain

With over 3 out of 10 people above the age of 50 suffering from back pain, it is become a common problem that’s only increasing in adults. A lot of times back pain is much easier to address than other type of chronic pains. Over time it has also been seen that back pain may actually be all in our head.

 

When it comes to back pain, our soft tissues that are in our backs begin to heal after we’ve suffered from an accident or just wear and tear, this happens even when you’re above the age of 50. That natural repair takes place over time, whether it’s a week or few months but during that period even when our backs have recovered the brain may continue to send pain impulses that form neurological pathways over time and once those pathways are in place they remain there for good.

 

According to Dr. David Hanscom who is a spinal surgeon, that stress plays a large role in creating those pathways that increase back pain over time. Stress sends our body into fight or flight mode which in turn release adrenaline and puts the body into a heightened state. This in turn causes muscle tension which only alleviates back pain.

 

Dr Hanscom states that the best way to decrease back pain and stop the pathways from getting etched into your neural system is to first address your sleeping patterns. The best way to keep stress at bay and keep your mind at peace is really a good nights sleep. He states that most people with chronic back pain tend to sleep poorly and that results is a poor quality of life.

 

Sleep is so critical to reducing stress and rerouting the brain’s circuitry that Hanscom recommends the use of medication for people who are kept awake by pain or anxiety. Once patients are sufficiently rested, Hanscom prescribes a writing regimen to further distance them from their pain. The object is to write down negative thoughts and then immediately destroy the paper. To keep a journal is to hold on to those thoughts, so journaling is counterproductive, he says.

 

Carrying out some of these basic tasks related to sleep and mental well being play a much larger role in addressing chronic back pain. While some back pain may solely be related to a physical source such as an accident, in most cases stress and mental wellness also play a part in us relieving that back pain which gets worse over time if not tended to.

5 Types of back pain you shouldn’t ignore

Almost 80% of people will face some type of spinal problem in their lifetime. It’s a perfectly natural thing to go through back pain but in some cases the signals of back pain might be more serious than just something that disappears in a few days. Even though 92% of the times back pain is resolved without conventional medicine, sometimes not being able to treat it correctly can only make it worse.

 

Most of the time doctors will prescribe bed rest for a short period and some anti-inflammatory medicines. These work most of the time but for those who continue to get persistent pain even after taking these, might be looking at much more serious symptoms such as the ones we posted below:

 

  1. Back pain that does not resolve or gets worse.

 

  1. Feeling more pain at night than during the day.

 

  1. Spinal pain associated with numbness, weakness or problems in the function of an extremity.

 

  1. The presence of bowel or bladder problems.

 

  1. Difficulty in walking or in fine motor movements of the hands.

 

According to doctors the most common spinal problem is degenerative arthritis of the spine, which leads to neck or back issues over longer periods of time. Other spinal issues can come from sources much more innocuous than inflammation. In fact, those working at a desk job could be setting themselves up for back problems later in life through poor posture.

 

It is important for patients to convey the right signals to the doctors for them to understand the severity of the problems. If any type of back pain is not resolved in 6 weeks, its possible that you have a more serious problem to deal with. In a lot of cases not treating back pain on time can lead no neck pain and knee pain as well. Making sure that we’re able to identify some of the symptoms stated above can help doctors treat you better.

How many hours can you sit each day?

There’s nothing wrong with sitting, it gives our body some rest and in some cases also a feeling of relaxation but anything in large quantities is never good for us and its applies to sitting too. For example sitting too long at your work desk can have adverse affects on your back and spine and so to combat that pain its always optimal to get up and talk a short walk for 5 minutes after every hour of sitting.

 

What’s even better is that recent research has helped figure out the optimum amount of time we should actually be sitting. This is great news for office executives and workers who are concerned about the affects of sitting on long term back pain. Why should you be worried just as much as any other person who spends most of their work day at a desk? Medical researchers have long warned that prolonged sitting is dangerous, associated with a significantly higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression, as well as muscle and joint problems.

 

A statement by the British journal of sports medicine states that we should take breaks for at least 2 hours of the 8 hours we spend sitting at our office desks. It is also recommended that we should work up to spending at least half of the eight hours workday in light intensity activities such as a quick stretch or a fast walk for 5 minutes around your office.

 

Why does sitting have such a massive impact on our body. Director of Active working, Bradley Gavin states “Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent. Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again. These things are so simple they’re almost stupid.”

 

Other additional research has also shown that people who tend to stand and move through out the day are usually 15% more productive than their counterparts. Therefore these light intensity activities done throughout the day are essential to maintain good health, steer clear from any future back pain and finally also remain productive.