Causes of Back Pain in Kids

Adults are well familiar with the pain and discomfort that middle back pain brings. This condition, however, is actually identified and diagnosed more frequently in children and teenagers. A lot of parents don’t expect their children to suffer from back pain – especially if their children are leading healthy lifestyles and are staying active.

Additionally, this type of pain is a common health concern associated with old age. Still, the fact remains that middle back pain is widespread in becoming a more and more common occurrence for children and adolescents. If you’re concerned about your child’s back pain, then you’re not alone.

According to a study published by the Journal of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, one in three adolescents suffer from back pain and are in need of medical treatment. And although parents are willing to get costly exams done such as an MRI scan to pinpoint the origin of the issue, the exact cause of middle back pain in younger people may not be apparent.


As you know, back pains are more common among adults. However, if your child reports grave or pain in their back that gradually worsens and lasts for several days, or pain that is linked to other symptoms such as the ones listed below, then it’s time to consult with a doctor:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Pain during the night or while they are resting
  • Difficulty to move
  • Trouble walking
  • Numbness or pain in the leg or foot
  • Weakness
  • Bladder or bowel issues

Diagnosing Back Pain

Upon visit, your pediatrician will check if your child is currently taking any medication. He or she will also check your child’s history of medical conditions and will check about your child’s middle back pain. Be prepared to answer if the pain started while your child is doing a particular activity or if it just came out of nowhere. Tell the doctor if there is anything that appears to make the pain better or worse, along with other symptoms that your child may be experiencing.

The following exams may also need to be done during your visit:

Physical Exam

Your pediatrician will carefully check your child’s spine, as well as how your child stands, walks, sits, and other range of motions. The physical exam will also include checking your child’s nerves, feeling the muscles in the back nerves, and asking him or her to raise his o her legs while lying on his back or face down.

Blood Exam

Blood tests are conducted to check for any infection or inflammation.


Other than the x-rays, an MRI, bone scan, and CT scan may be required. These tests will reveal any issues with your child’s tissues, bones, or nerves. Doing these tests will also show other health concerns such as a tumor, an inflammation, or an infection, and accurately determine the cause of his or her middle back pain. Your child may need some contrast liquid to help the bones and tissues show clearer in the scan. Tell the doctor if your child has an allergic reaction to a contrast liquid. If an MRI is needed, don’t let your child go through with the procedure with any metal object in his or her person as metal may cause severe injury when it comes in contact with the MRI room.


The treatment plan will depend on the cause of the pain in your child’s back. Your healthcare specialist may recommend the following:

Your pediatrician may recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. NSAIDs may be purchased from the pharmacy without a prescription. However, if your child is taking any blood thinner medicine, then don’t give him or her NSAID as it can cause kidney problems or stomach bleeding. Check with your doctor what kind of NSAID is safe to give to your child.
Physical therapy may also be suggested for your child’s treatment of middle back pain. Ask your pediatrician for a referral of a physical therapist that specializes in children’s exercises and stretches to help improve their posture, movement, and strength, and to alleviate pain.

However, if your child’s back pain is not getting better even when taking medicine, seek immediate medical attention. Any signs of decreased appetite, weight loss, or fever are also a cause for concern and should be taken seriously.