Much to my delight, the Journal of Orthopedic Surgeons brought to light an issue that I have been on my soapbox about for years now. Recently the Journal published a literature review titled "Evaluation and Diagnosis of Back Pain in Children and Adolescents." The paper stated that too often children with back pain do not have any problem that will show up on a diagnostic test, an x-ray or an MRI and therefore the pain often gets ignored or chalked up to growing pains. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, many of the kids that come to see me have severe pain because everyone kept telling them to suck it up. Adults also fall victim to the same mentality only on opposite ends of the scales, kids brush the pain off as growing pains and adults brush the pain off as just part of the aging process.
As we get older, we get lazy. I often tell people if you want to see how to do a proper squat, throw a ball on the ground in front of a two year old and watch them pick it up. They never bend from the waist. They get near the ball, squat to the floor, pull the ball towards them and pick it up off the floor. If you threw that same ball in a room of 6-year-old kids, not one of them would squat to the floor to get it. They would all bend over at the waist and pick up the ball. When we take this shortcut, we are herniating our discs and straining our muscles.
So what's causing this pain? Many things in our society today force us into postures that we should not be sustaining, with phones and computers being the biggest culprits. Kids and parents spend hundreds of hours a day hunched over phones and computers. What most people don't know is that every second that you are in that posture you are causing damage to your ligaments, muscles and joints. While these injuries are subtle and occur over time, eventually they add up to big pains in your neck and back.
It is important that you seek out a musculoskeletal expert to diagnose injuries that do not show up on imaging studies. Therapists at my clinic deal with this situation daily and always find the root of the problem. Living in pain, no matter what the age, is not an acceptable answer. In the video that is attached here, I share a few simple tests that you and your child can do at home to see if you are truly injured or at risk for injury. Ignoring pain will only make it worse. Don't let "growing pains" or the "aging process" diminish your quality of life.