Children's health is a matter of significant concern, mainly because it is difficult for kids to express what they feel exactly. Sometimes the diagnosis goes wrong, and that may delay the treatment cause the problems to increase in future. When we talk about pains in children, the causes of the strains in the back and neck are often ignored. Dr Nidhi Sanghvi Shah, National Clinical Expert at QI Spine Clinic, says, 'When a child complains of back or neck pain, it is a cause of concern. Long hours of sitting in school, incorrect posture while using gadgets, lack of physical activity are some of the key lifestyle reasons why children today are getting affected at an early age.' Universal Children’s Day 2018: Why Your Child’s Biggest Enemy Is The Heavy School Bag, Expert Speaks.
It is essential to pick up the signs and symptoms before things go out of hand. Here are a few signs and symptoms laid down by Dr Nidhi Sanghvi Shah, National Clinical Expert at QI Spine Clinic-
Constant slouching- Long hours texting, sitting, bent forward on a study desk and using the laptop can cause problems with the alignment of your child’s spine. This can cause a hunchback or kyphosis eventually leading to pain.
Tip- Ensure your child uses a laptop stand and sits on a high table and limit phone and sitting time. Help your child stay active by encouraging him/her to take up outdoor activities.
Visible swelling and tenderness- Swelling, or tenderness in the spine along with associated symptoms such as fever, unexplained weight loss, malaise, and fatigue may be non-mechanical signs. In all these cases, such symptoms at an early stage should be a cause for concern for parents.
Tip- Avoid suppressing the pain with painkillers. Consult a spine specialist before any home treatment is sought.
Tilted walking posture or asymmetrical waist- Neuromuscular, postural or congenital disabilities can cause slight deformity or tilt which progress to become worse over time. These are common symptoms of a condition called scoliosis.
Tip- An early consultation with a spine specialist can ensure a timely diagnosis, and an active spine rehabilitation programme can help reduce the progression of the curve or tilt.
Pain between shoulder blades- If your child complains of pain between shoulders it is most likely due to sports injuries, inflammatory or postural stresses on the spine. This should not be ignored.
Tip- Regular check-ups with a spine specialist can help identify such injuries early.
Trouble sleeping- Discomfort or pain in a specific area of your child's spine can keep them up at night. Suppressing the pain with painkillers and sleep medication will only delay the treatment and make it worse.
Tip- Keep a pillow or knee spacer under your child's knees to ease the discomfort or pain. If your child is a side sleeper, place the pillow or knee spacer between their knees.
Fever or Unexplained weight loss- If back pain is accompanied by fever, unexplained weight loss or weakness it may be a sign of an infection or a tumour.
Tip- Do not ignore these symptoms in your child. These may be signs of a non-mechanical issue and help from a doctor must be sought immediately.
Tingling or prickling sensations- Tingling, twinges, numbness or needles can be a sign of excess pressure on your child's nerves.
Tip: A multidisciplinary approach to treatment with a neurologist can help your child overcome such issues.
Loss of bladder and bowel control- Back pain accompanied by loss of bladder function is a warning sign of something more serious. This should be treated as a red flag.
Tip- Sought medical attention immediately by consulting a doctor or spine specialist.
Headaches- Frequent headaches may be a sign of a neck problem. If your child uses smartphones or gadgets or has wrong sitting posture while studying, you should visit a spine specialist.
Tip- Neck stretches and chin tucks every 30 minutes can help reduce such tension headaches. Use neck support cushions at your child’s study desk
Pain that radiates to the arms or legs- Back and neck pain sometimes manifests and travels to the arms, legs or even knees. This is usually a warning sign of something serious and needs to be investigated immediately.
Tip- If your child complains of the arm, hip or leg pain try to probe for symptoms of back pain as well. Consult a spine specialist when you see any sign of radiating pain.
It is important that efforts are taken at the right time to avoid the problem from growing. If you feel that any of these symptoms are relatable, immediately consult an expert.