Lordosis is the inward curve of the spine in the lower back. Maintaining a slight swing creates proper posture, along with balanced shoulder blades, rather than rolling forward. When standing, your feet should be flat on the floor and your chin should be parallel to the floor. When sitting, your back should be straight and your shoulders pulled back slightly.
dr Michael Israel,, said that poor posture is a common cause of back pain in adolescents and back pain is one of the most common reasons patients see ACH’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic. It is important to determine whether the pain is due to an underlying problem with the curve in the spine or to a neuromuscular abnormality in order to achieve the best treatment plan.
“The increased use of technology/screens in schools and in our daily lives has contributed to an increase in neck and back complaints,” Israel said. “Use of screens, including laptops and phones, causes hunched shoulders and neck flexion, which can lead to neck ligament inflammation, muscle weakness and even increased curvature of the spine. Some have referred to these physical findings as “text necks.”
Israel pointed to recent studies that show that more than 50 percent of school-age children and adolescents complain of back pain at some point, and that a third of children aged 10 to 18 have experienced back pain in the last year.
dr david bumpass, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock and Arkansas Children’s Northwest, said setting up desks in the classroom could be a challengeeng for correct posture. Properly angling a computer or placing an iPad on a stand can help. He is also Associate Professor of at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
“Place the screen as upright as possible so they can maintain a flatter or slightly downward gaze, rather than placing the screen flat on their desk like they would if there was just an iPad or something on the desk.” would . That would be more beneficial for promoting good mechanics,” he said.
Like adults, children should get up, stretch, or change positions every 45 to 60 minutes throughout the day to relieve neck and back pain. It also allows them to refocus their energy to reduce muscle tension.
Video gamers who sit for long periods, particularly those playing eSports, should also consider breaks for physical activity or exercise. Bumpass said surgery-wise, it’s rare to find anything “seriously wrong” with poor posture.
As children grow into their teens, aerobic, strength, and resistance training can keep core muscles strong and make it easier to maintain good posture without muscle fatigue. This is especially important for athletes, as poor posture can affect athletic performance.
“Increased muscle pain can occur due to increased workload of smaller muscle groups in the back and neck. Persistent posture problems can lead to decreased lung function, affecting strength and endurance in athletes. Finally, poor posture increases levels of circulating cortisol (the stress hormone), which can negatively impact the mental health of our student-athletes,” Israel said.
For some, Israel said treating pain from poor posture may include physical therapy with a physical therapist or an at-home exercise program that focuses on muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Lifestyle changes, including minimizing screen time, can also help.
“Sleep hygiene can also play a role in the treatment plan. Common advice includes avoiding screens in bed and using a pillow between your legs while you sleep,” Israel said.
An ill-fitting backpack can cause neck and back pain. A backpack’s straps should be tight enough so that the bag sits squarely on a child’s back. It is recommended to wear both straps on the shoulders to ensure even weight distribution. Israel, as a valued guide, said a backpack should be no more than 10 percent of a child’s recommended body weight for their age. If it’s a rolling backpack, it shouldn’t be more than 20 percent of the child’s body weight, depending on age.
Poor posture doesn’t directly lead to muscular or skeletal deformities as children grow, Bumpass said, but it can affect their quality of life if they experience increasing pain.
If the pain goes beyond pain and wakes a child at night or is associated with fever, chills, weight loss, neurological problems such as numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, or if the pain worsens over time, parents should see a doctor.
What your child can expect from an ACH appointment for back pain
dr Michael Israel, director of sports medicine at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, explained what to expect during a routine evaluation for back pain at the Arkansas Children’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Clinic:
Detailed family and personal medical history
- X-rays to rule out significant abnormalities in spinal curvature
- Assessment of the child’s strength and mobility of the spine, arms and legs
- Detailed discussion of daily activities, including how long you are screened, what movements make symptoms worse, etc. This can determine if further testing is needed. The doctor can then develop an individual treatment plan.