Bones, Joints & Muscles - Back Pain

Back Pain

Back Pain

Back Pain is a condition that we usually associate with adults. However, lifestyle changes mean back trouble is no longer confined to the adult population; more and more children and adolescents are reporting discomfort.

What causes Back Pain?

Normal daily activities and habits can trigger back pain, either immediately or in the future. These are some of the main causes:

  • School Bags: especially when they are too heavy, carried incorrectly or of poor design.
  • Posture: mainly ‘slouching’ or slumping.
  • Sitting: or too long or on the wrong furniture.
  • Exercise: not taking enough or using poor technique.
  • Weight: being over-weight places extra stress on the body which can contribute to back and other joint symptoms.
  • Diet: an inadequate diet e.g. too much junk food can not only cause weight gain, but also fails to provide the body with the necessary nutrients for healthy bones and joints.
  • Growing up: periods of rapid growth can cause back symptoms.

If your child gets back pain:

  • Try wrapping a hot water bottle in a towel and placing it over the affected area for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Don’t confine them to bed! Gentle exercise can help reduce pain and stiffness. KidsPhysio will be able to offer you advice on suitable exercises.
  • If your child is under 6 years old and there is no clear reason for their back pain (eg a fall) contact your GP
  • • Contact KidsPhysio for a thorough assessment and appropriate treatment.


Scoliosis is when the back rotates and curves sideways and in an ‘S’ or ‘C’ shape. Some scoliosis facts:

  • No one knows exactly what causes the most common form of scoliosis, which is called idiopathic scoliosis.
  • Scoliosis can develop very gradually and it is often not diagnosed until a child reaches early adolescence.
  • In most cases, scoliosis does not require medical treatment.
  • The angle at which the back curves is called the Cobb angle. It is measured on an x-ray.
  • Treatment programmes are primarily planned depending on the Cobb angle.
  • Physiotherapy may not be able to change a scoliosis progression but can help maintain muscle strength and ranges and help reduce pain.

Scheuermann’s Disease

Scheuermann’s disease is a childhood condition causing abnormal development of the vertebrae of the spine. Some scoliosis facts:

  • Scheuermann’s is also known as Sherman’s Disease, Scheuermann’s kyphosis, Calvé disease and Juvenile Osteochondrosis of the spine.
  • Scheuermann’s causes wedging of the vertebral bodies, narrowing of the intervertebral disc space and Schmorl’s nodes (protrusions of the intervertebral disc).
  • Scheuermann’s disease mostly becomes apparent in adolescent children
  • It is relatively common thought to occur in 25% of all children to varying degrees. Many unaware they have the condition.
  • An x-ray is needed to diagnose Scheuermann’s disease .
  • Symptoms of Scheuermann’s disease (if any) will generally last between 6 months and 3 years.

What are the symptoms of Scheuermann’s disease?

  • Mild cases of Scheuermann’s disease are often asymptomatic and the condition is picked up incidentally.
  • Children show a kyphotic deformity (a ‘hunched back’ appearance).
  • Children may complain of backache and stiffness made worse by sitting.
  • Once growth of the spine has finished, the spinal curve stops progressing and symptoms usually resolve.

Physiotherapy may help by providing:

  • Pain relieving treatments and advice.
  • Exercises to maintain ranges of movement and strength of the spine and surrounding joints.
  • Advice on suitable activities and PE participation.
  • Breathing exercises.
  • Postural advice and exercises.
  • Biomechanical assessment and treatment to reduce abnormal stresses to the spine.