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Low Back Pain: Not Just for Adults Anymore

Although back pain is usually thought of as an "adult" problem (research shows that up to 80 percent of all adults worldwide will suffer low back pain at least once in their lifetime) new evidence suggests that back pain is becoming an increasing problem for children and teenagers, and that a variety of factors can lead to this condition.

Researchers questioned more than 10,000 Israeli schoolchildren in 1st through 6th grade regarding their average weight, average weight of backpacks, if there were on-campus facilities to store backpacks, the height of chairs and desks in relation to student height, seating arrangements, and physical activity during recess.

Results: Between 30 percent and 54 percent of the students carried bags containing 15 percent or more of their body weight; almost 15 percent of the 1st graders and 20 percent of 6th graders sat in chairs of "inappropriate" height; in 74 percent of the classes, students sat with their sides facing the instructor and in another 35 percent, students sat with their backs to the teacher; 30 percent of the schools did not have storage facilities for backpacks; in 48 percent of the schools, there was no organized play activity during recess and in another 6 percent there was no provision for any type of physical activity during recess.

Parents, your children may be at risk of developing low back pain. Fortunately, you can take several steps to maintain your child's health: Monitor your child's backpack for weight; talk to the school about repositioning desks and physical activity; and of course, have your child examined regularly by a doctor of chiropractic - it could prevent years of unwanted back pain.


Limon S, Valinsky LJ, Ben-Shalom Y. Children at risk. Risk factors for low back pain in the elementary school environment. Spine, March 15, 2004;29(6):697-702.

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