Back Pain in Children – top tips for prevention

It is incredible to think that even children can get back pain but it’s true. At Sundial we did free half-term kids and teachers chiropractic checks in Brighton. 32 per cent of six and seven year olds get back ache at some time according to research by the British Chiropractic Association. This rises to 45 percent by the age of eleven. To highlight this issue the focus of last year’s BackCare Awareness Week, 17th-23rd October, was school children and their teachers.

One of the main reasons school children are prone to getting back strains is because they are carrying heavy school bags. Now school lockers are no longer available in most schools, children have to carry a bag with the full day’s books as well as all the other stuff that they need. Some kids carry all their books around for the whole week and then games bags as well. An adult wouldn’t put up with it.

Not only are the bags heavy they are often not very well designed. A hand strap sport type bag or book bag means all the weight is carried on one side of the body. A better option is a shoulder strap ideally carried across the body. The option, however, is a rucksack with both shoulder straps used and has been shown to reduce back pain by a third.

School Chairs Cause Back Problems

Schools themselves can also do more to prevent back problems in their students. Budget constraints mean that classroom chairs are often cheap and nasty providing poor support and no adjustability. If an adult was provided with a similar design of chair they would refuse to work in it for more than a few minutes with out screaming for a better one. Indeed, employers have a legal duty to provide a decent chair which is fully adjustable and supportive. Schools have no such duty.

Brighton Chiropractor Interviewed by BBC

The fashion of having children seated in groups around circular tables also adds to back strain some children have their back to the teacher and are constantly twisting round to see what is going on at the front of the class. Chairs that swivel would make this much safer. See an interview with Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett by BBC Newsround on this issue here.

It is not just poor chairs that are associated with more back pain in school kids. The length of lessons themselves is also associated with more back aches. The longer the lesson the more aches and pains children reported in a study at the University of Surrey. Researchers visited classrooms and looked at what children were sitting on and how they perched on chairs as well other factors like length of lessons and how much movement was allowed. They found that if children sat in a flexed posture they had an increased incidence of low back pain. If the children did not move much and sat still they had an increase in upper back and neck pain.

Lifestyle Factors

A recent survey by Ofcom showed that computer game use and watching DVD’s has actually declined in teenagers it has been replaced by other screen based entertainment such as iPads and laptops to browse the internet as well as texting. In fact most teenagers do these things whilst also watching television. It is not just teenagers who are glued to screens, 40 percent of five year olds use an internet enabled computer at home.

But does this digital overload lead to health problems. Previously boffins in Scandinavia found that increasing television watching led to an increase in back ache in children. Certainly sedentary lifestyles have been associated with more back pain in children but does screen time also lead to obesity. The answer is maybe.

Studies are unclear whether gaming and computer use are one cause of obesity. Still, it is probably a good thing if children are running around rather than sitting around. Weak core abdominal and back muscles are more likely in children who get back trouble. It seems however, that you can have too much exercise if you are a child. High level sport and training is associated with more pain.

If a child does get a bout of back pain it will usually disappear in a few days. For a third of kids this doesn’t happen however and they go on to have longer term or recurrent symptoms.  It is important to take steps to reduce the postural stresses and other lifestyle factors that can aggravate the spine and if symptoms are not resolving to get a chiropractic check up.

At Sundial we are doing free half-term kids and teachers checks and have reduced our treatment fee to £24, saving £10 per visit. For a video showing treatment of a six year old go here.

Top Ten Tips to Prevent Back Pain In Children

  1. Use a back pack and use both shoulder straps
  2. Ask the school if they have ergonomic chairs
  3. Don’t sit on the floor to play computer games, use a chair
  4. Don’t allow long periods of laptop use in a poor posture
  5. Limit television to 1-2 hours maximum per day
  6. Ideally use a PC rather than a laptop
  7. Set up the computer screen so the top is at eye level
  8. Consider a office swivel chair at a desk for homework
  9. Build in active games and moderate levels of sport
  10. Get a chiropractic check-up if back or neck pain persists

Further information

https://sundialclinics.co.uk/2008/11/

http://www.advms.pl/?q=system/files/53_52SBockowski.pdf

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/779f55c2-5110-11dc-8e9d-0000779fd2ac.html#axzz1b7a3nwEv

http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=40136

Troussler B et al. Back pain in school children: A study among 1178 pupils. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine, 1994, Vol 26, 143-146.

Lifting Training Video From the Archive Starring Brighton Chiropractor

Nearly 20 years Matthew took part in a training programme to help a national pub chain reduce injuries due to lifting. He helped put a seminar series and video together to help publicans and their staff prevent back pain on the job. Roy Castle and Geoff Capes were the talent. Matthew says “It was a gruelling 16 hour day of shooting. The director couldn’t make his mind up about how to do it and the shots took ages to set up. Geoff and I were getting tired and cranky by 10pm but Roy was as cheerful at the end as he was at the start of the day.”
Here it is.

Choosing the right Brighton Chiropractor and Physiotherapist Clinic

Our professional approach, gentle treatment and the great care we take of our clients have helped us become a centre for excellence – and the Brighton back pain clinic that people most prefer.

Many people believe they will have to put up with back pain when in fact, prompt treatment can cure back pain for good. Call us today for a free check to see how our back pain treatment works and if we can help you. We can also help with leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain and headaches too. Even arthritis pain can improve with the right treatment.

At Sundial Clinics we work hard to find out what is wrong. That’s why we have physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and Pilates trainers to help you.

Most of our clients come from Brighton, Hove and Kemp Town but many come from around Sussex as we are close to Brighton railway station. We are so confident that we can help you find the pain relief and better health you want, that we offer all our clients a money back guarantee.

Here is a check list to choosing the best chiropractors in Brighton

X-rays reduce cancer risk says latest research

Arthritis x-ray explainedUsing x-rays to see inside the body has been around since 1895 and chiropractors were amongst the first to use this wonderful new technology. The first x-ray machine to be installed in a chiropractic college was in 1910 in Davenport, Iowa. Since then x-ray use fallen in and out of favour in both medical and chiropractic circles. Everyone assumes that all x-rays pose a risk to health but latest research puts this to the test.

Recently NICE recommended against the routine use of x-rays for simple low back pain. As far back as 1976 studies(1) showed that ordinary x-ray films don’t show the cause of the pain. Further arguments showed that in most cases and doesn’t improve care or the clinical outcome.  Whilst that may be true for medicine where the first treatment is medication and then, after a while, physiotherapy exercises, chiropractors use x-rays differently.

The 1976 study was limited to the 18-50 age group so the same conclusion cannot be drawn for older back sufferers. Chiropractors take films standing up which shows such things as leg length differences far more accurately than measuring the legs or eyeballing differences at the feet or ankles. Hospitals take back x-rays lying down which show disease but mask postural changes like spinal curvature (scoliosis)  and disc compression with instability.

Chiropractors main form of treatment is manipulation or adjustment of the spine. Whilst this is a safe procedure in most people, if you have a hidden spinal birth defect, x-ray can show if it safe to adjust. Chiropractors feel for individual spinal bone movement and it is the loss of this movement which is thought to cause many forms of back pain. If there is a spinal defect where 2 vertebra have not  grown properly and have fused, which is not uncommon, then that segment will move abnormaly. Without an x-ray a chiropractor might conclude that this was 2 bones locked together causing the pain and start treatment to unlock them. In a review of 847 x-rays form new borns to 85 year olds, 68 % had observable anomalies (2).  These ranged from common wear-and-tear arthritis to tumours and fractures. It is good to know so that the right treatment can be applied.

Are X-rays Safe?

We are exposed to x-rays every day, about 2.4 mSv a year. In Cornwall the rock emits more radiation so it is bit higher here ( no Cornish jokes please). When we fly the exposure is higher still. It has been assumed that any exposure is harmful. This has not been based on research but an assumption that the effects are linear down to zero. This theory means that even small doses have a small adverse effect.

But is this true. In 2008 Rodgers and Holmes (3) went to Chernobyl to find out. Astonishingly they found that at small doses of up to 15 mSv, x-rays were actually beneficial! Up to this level people had lower levels of cancer than a normal un-exposed population. So x-rays are good for you, within reason. A set of 2 low back x-rays is about 1 mSv (4) and the maximum safe dose is 20 mSv a year (5).

The British Chiropractic Association insists on a strict code of practice to ensure even higher safety standards. Regular site inspections and equipment maintenance is carried out to make the best use of a valuable resource in the chiropractors diagnostic options.

References

1. Nachemson, A. L. (1976). The lumbar spine an orthopaedic challenge. Spine,1, 59-71.

2. Beck, R. W., Holt, K. R., Fox, M. A., &  Hurtgen-Grace, K. L. (2004). Radiographic anomalies that may alter chiropractic intervention strategies found in a New Zealand population. Journal Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, 27, 554-9.

3. Rodgers, B. E., &  Holmes, K. M. (2008). Radio-adaptive response to environmental exposures at Chernobyl. Dose Response, 6, 209-21.

4. Wall, B. F., &  Hart, D. (1997). Revised radiation doses for typical X-ray examinations. Report on a recent review of doses to patients from medical X-ray examinations in the UK by NRPB. National Radiological Protection Board. Br J Radiol, 70, 437-9.

5. World Nuclear Association (2009). Radiation and Nuclear Energy. Dec 2009 from  http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf05.html