Many people experience back pain at some point in their lives. While we often associate back pain with adults, children can experience back pain too.

Back pain can result from injury, strain or overuse. It may also result from other injuries or underlying medical conditions.

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What are the signs and symptoms of back pain in children?

Back pain itself is a sign or symptom of a cause or condition. It can occur at any location across the spine. Sometimes it is accompanied by other symptoms that could indicate other medical conditions or injuries.

If a child is experiencing worsening pain or any of the symptoms below, it is important to check in with their doctor:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Pain at night or at rest
  • Trouble walking
  • Weakness
  • Numbness in the leg or foot
  • Pain that goes down one or both legs

What causes back pain in children?

Back pain is most often caused by injury, strain or overuse. Core imbalance or weakness can contribute to this pain.

Less common causes of back pain include infections, tumors, trauma or certain underlying medical conditions. Medical conditions that could result in back pain include scoliosis, kyphosis (hunchback) and spondylolysis (defects or broken area of bone).

How is back pain in children diagnosed?

Back pain is a symptom rather than a condition to be diagnosed. To understand the cause of back pain, a child’s doctor will look to diagnose any underlying condition or injury:

  • Physical exam
  • Additional imaging if necessary
  • Additional testing if necessary

How is back pain in children treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of your child’s back pain. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s can help diagnose the underlying cause and best possible treatment plan.