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Basic Facts: Back Pain Your spine is involved in almost every movement you make and allows you to twist, bend, and move. Back pain is very common and can be frustrating for you and your family. About half of all adolescents/children are affected by episodes of back pain. Our goal is to help you understand the cause of your back pain and the best way to treat it with minimal interference with school and the activities you enjoy. What are the causes of back pain? There are many causes of back pain. Muscle or ligament weakness and stiffness are the most common causes. Back pain can be caused by tight hamstrings and weak abdominal or core muscles. The hamstrings are the muscle group on the back of the thigh that bend and flex the knee and strengthen and extend the hip. These issues are extremely common in growing children and adolescents. Being overweight is another contributing factor. Back pain can occur with some sports/activities that involve hyperextension of the back. How is it treated? A commitment to a home exercise program involving stretching and strengthening the core musculature is essential in the treatment of back pain. Your provider will work with you to determine whether a home exercise program is sufficient or we may refer you to a physical therapist for instruction. It typically takes 6-8 weeks of consistent exercise to begin to see benefit. Physical therapy is only effective if the exercises are done at home daily. The time commitment for performing your exercises is 30 minutes per day. What is core strength? Core muscles are the muscles that surround your back, abdomen, pelvis, and hips. The core is the body’s center of strength. The muscles work together and are involved in most physical activities throughout your day such as sitting, standing, bending, twisting, and sports activities. Developing your core muscle strength may result in better balance and coordination and will decrease the workload on the low back. Developing a strong core is the single most effective way to relieve back pain, improve posture, and allow for good spine health throughout your life. Suggested Activities Exercise: Classes such as Pilates, Yoga, and Tai Chi specifically target core muscle strength. Pool activities such as swimming or walking in the pool are a low impact way to build core muscles. Walking outside or bicycling are other recommended activities. These will allow you to develop your overall fitness and to help maintain a healthy weight. Exercise Ball: Also called a fitness, balance, or Pilates ball, this is an easy and inexpensive method of starting a core fitness program. They come in different sizes and can be purchased at sporting goods or discount stores for around 2025 dollars. The box should have size recommendations that correspond to your height. Choose a ball that allows your knees to be at a right angle when you sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Many balls come with an instructional DVD demonstrating basic exercises. Simply sitting on the ball while working on the computer or watching TV can help engage the core muscles and improve posture.

childrenscolorado.org • Anschutz Medical Campus • 13123 East 16th Avenue • Aurora, CO 80045 • 800-624-6553


What are some other ways to help my back pain? Avoid activities that cause back pain, such as repetitive hyperextension activities. We encourage cross training, by participating in a variety of sports. Maintaining a healthy balance in all aspects of your life is very important. Being involved in a variety of extracurricular activities of your choice is highly recommended for your overall well-being. Try to not let the back pain dominate your life and the life of your family. Do your very best to stay in school and not fall behind on your academics. Distraction from your back pain daily is very important. Minimizing stress and getting proper sleep can help improve back pain. Maintaining proper posture improves muscle tone and helps stave off back pain. What else can be done? Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to back pain. You may consider adding alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, massage, yoga, pilates, and acupuncture as an enhancement to your home exercise program. Over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be used for symptomatic relief. Refer to the dosing directions on the packaging before taking any medications and are always to be taken with food. You can use ice or heat on the affected area as needed. Psychological Aspects of Back Pain Psychological factors rarely seem to be an important cause of back pain, but they invariably affect it-for better or for worse. Having back pain can lead to emotional reactions, such as fear and sadness, or back pain may be perceived as merely a nuisance. Living with back pain can be hard. Ideally, some of the tips below can help you feel more able to control your pain and the frustration, sadness, and emotions that often accompany pain. Acceptance: In order to do what we can, we need to stop trying to do what we can’t. At some point, it’s time to stop looking for diagnoses and cures, and to decide to make the best of the situation despite back pain. Acceptance does not mean giving up; it means taking charge and having the fullest life possible, despite the pain. Positive Thinking: Catastrophising, the tendency to assume that the worst that can happen is true, has been shown to promote pain and dysfunction. In the case of back pain, a person who thinks, “This is horrible, there’s no way I can stand it”, will likely suffer more (and have less fun) than one who thinks, “I don’t like my back pain, but I know there will be days that are better and days that are worse.” Interpersonal support: The best response for those who love you is to accept that the pain is real, that they can’t take it away, and that you aren’t sick and can still do things on your own. It is important that loved ones support you, but also ensure that your pain does not govern their lives. Follow-up If you have persistent pain after completing physical therapy and a home exercise program for 2-3 months you should follow-up with your orthopaedic provider. For any questions or concerns, call the Spine Program at 720-777-6962.

childrenscolorado.org • Anschutz Medical Campus • 13123 East 16th Avenue • Aurora, CO 80045 • 800-624-6553

Back pain  

Basic facts about back pain.

Back pain  

Basic facts about back pain.

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