Suspicious episodes of back pain, or any concerning features of the pain, will result in radiological studies (such as an x-ray or MRI scan) and possibly a referral to a specialist for further examination and diagnostic tests.
Types of Back Pain in Kids and Teens
The most common causes of back pain in children and teenagers tend to be somewhat age-dependent:
- Younger children are less likely to be putting their spine under the same severe stresses as older children and adults. Thus, for the most part younger children do not have medically significant back pain and their discomfort tends to be short-lived. Also, younger children tend to self-limit their activity, choosing not to repeat painful activities, which aids in their recovery if an episode of back pain does occur.
- Older children tend to be more aggressive in their activities and sports, thereby increasing the risk of injury to the bones, nerves and soft tissues in the spine. Teenagers are also more likely to test the limits of their bodies, often being exhorted by commercial advertising and/or peer pressure to push the envelope.At this point, compression fractures are more commonplace, and we begin to see occasional disc injuries. Older pediatric patients also can injure the joints between vertebral bones, causing painful stress injuries. Only very rarely do the nerve roots become compromised in older children.