Backpack Safety – Your Child’s Back Could Be In Pain

Is your child’s backpack weighing him/her down??   More than 40 million students carry school backpacks to school every day.  It is recommended that a child carry no more than 10% of his/her body weight in a backpack, however, most kids carry as much as 40-50%!!!! This can create serious back problems in children and can also set the stage for long term spinal problems that may occur later in life.  58% of orthopedists polled in 1999 in Chicago, Illinois and Wilmington, Delaware, reported treating children with back or shoulder pain attributable to carrying backpacks. 

Most adults with disc problems can be traced to faulty spinal biomechanics that started in childhood.  The most common injury reported from backpack use is “rucksack palsy.” This condition results when pressure is placed on the spinal nerve in the shoulder causing numbness in the hands, muscle wasting, and in extreme cases, nerve damage.  So form and posture, as well as proper spinal screenings for spinal health, are critical for children.

When a heavy backpack is filled with books and is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight’s force can pull a child backward. To compensate, a child may lean forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally putting excessive weight to the anterior part of the discs. The extra weight from the backpack can cause back, neck and shoulder pain.

Another problem arises when kids wear their backpacks over just one shoulder because they may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. This can cause increased spinal pain if a child is developing scoliosis.  They might develop lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck.  Improper backpack use can also lead to poor posture which can lead to poor spinal health later in life.   Backpack safety checks and spinal screenings regularly by your chiropractor can help eliminate potential problems from the heavy or excessive weight of backpacks.

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