The most common complaints bringing children to a Physiotherapist are back and neck pain. Some causes of back pain in children include poor posture, inappropriate forms of exercise and carrying heavy schoolbags.
Poor posture (sitting, standing, or lying down) is usually habitual and makes the spine vulnerable to injury and pain. This injury and pain is caused by excessive stress from prolonged poor posture and can arise from many tissues around the spine. These tissues include muscles, ligaments, discs and the joints of the spine.
The healthy spine curves inward at the neck, outward at the upper back, and inward at the lower back. These natural curves are referred to the neutral spine position. These three curves balance each other to ensure that the pull of gravity is evenly distributed around the spine.
When standing with the spine in a neutral spine position, the centre of the head, the shoulders, centre of the body and feet should line up vertically (from a side view). If the curves of the spine are increased or decreased, the core muscles have to work harder to support the weight of the head and body. This leads to fatigue in these muscles which reinforces the poor posture. This then leads to tissue strain and back pain.
When attending the clinic clients undertake a full musculoskeletal assessment, which in this case would determine that posture is the most likely cause of the client’s symptoms. Assessment then further determines the likely tissues being affected by the poor posture.
A full physical examination assesses the state of the body to highlight factors that are contributing to the poor posture. These include:
From the examination we establish a plan to address both the immediate symptoms and the underlying causes of the poor posture.
In some cases the symptoms present are treated to alleviate pain and inflammation in the tissues under stress. This would involve the modalities described under our service description of “Hands on Physiotherapy”.
In all cases of postural pain in children we undertake a program to correct the physical reasons for the existence of the poor posture causes the injury to the spine tissues. Such a program focuses on the following:
Better Health Channel Fact Sheet: Back Pain – Children, State of Victoria
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