Back Pain In Teen Years May Lead To More Severe Pain In Adulthood

Adolescence is a time of rapid physical growth, so it's not unusual for a teenager to experience a myriad of body aches and pains. However, studies indicate that back pain in the teenage years may set the stage for more serious pain when the teen reaches adulthood. Here's more information about this study and what teens can do to maintain a healthy back as they grow into adults.

Study Results

A study of nearly 10,000 Danish twins (aged 12 to 30) over the span of 8 years found that people who experienced back pain as teens were up to 4 times more likely to have back pain as adults. The longer the person had experienced the pain as a teen the more likely they were to be affected by it as an adult. For instance, 26 percent of people with back pain for over 30 days at the start of the study were still dealing with the same issue when the researchers followed up 8 years later.

Currently, about 8 out of every 10 people suffer from this condition at some point in their lives. Taking steps to treat chronic back pain when it first manifests in adolescence can help minimize the risk of developing a bad back as an adult.

Causes of Back Pain in Teens

There are a number of causes for back pain in teens, and determining the root issue can help you develop an effective strategy for treating the condition and preventing future problems.

Common reasons teens develop back pain include:

  • Poor sitting, standing and/or sleeping posture
  • Aggressive movements and/or impact injuries sustained during sports activities
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Strain from carrying heavy backpacks
  • Diseases such as spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis
  • Excess weight

Though not as common, back pain can also be caused by infections and tumors that develop in the spine.

Tips for a Healthy Back

There are several things teens can do to alleviate back pain and minimize the progression of the condition:

  • Lose weight – An oversized belly pulls the pelvis forward causing the spine to tilt awkwardly and leading to lower back pain. Losing excess pounds not only alleviates this problem but can help stave off other health concerns such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Participate in weight-bearing exercise – Weight lifting can help strengthen the muscles in the back, increasing spinal support. This type of exercise can also help stave off osteoporosis, which is a degenerative bone disorder that weakens bones in the body including the ones in the back.
  • Switch to a rolling case – Books, binders and portable computers can turn a lightweight backpack into a 150-pound cement block. Instead of using a backpack, opt to carry school supplies in a rolling case.
  • Improve posture – It may be cool to slouch, but it's not worth having to deal with chronic back pain. Sit up straight with both feet planted on the floor. Stand so that body weight is equally distributed between both feet, and opt to sleep on your back or side rather than your stomach.

Regular visits to a chiropractor can also help alleviate back pain and keep the spine in good shape. For more tips on improving back health, connect with an experienced chiropractor in your area, like North Star Chiropractic Center.