Adolescent Low Back Pain in Your Son or Daughter
Does your teenage son or daughter have low back pain? Although a very common problem in the United States (it has been reported that 80% of the U.S. population will experience low back pain at some time in their life), individuals 13-18 years old should not typically have complaints of low back pain. If an active teenager has low back pain it could be a more serious than a simple strain or sprain. Low back pain in the young active athlete could be due to a condition called spondylolysis.
Spondylolysis is a stress fracture of a portion of the vertebrae typically in the lower region of the back. This condition can occur in a young active individual who is involved in heavy weight training or sports that involve extreme backward bending moments. If your teenager has low back pain and is involved in these activities you should see your physician for imaging to rule out this condition. If it is not caught early enough, it may develop into spondylolisthesis which is a more severe stress fracture.
Typically, if it is determined to be spondylolysis, the physician would recommend bracing and physical therapy, with a long period of rest from the offending activity. In almost all cases surgery is not required and a regimen of skilled physical therapy focusing on controlling pain, appropriate body mechanics with activities, and both core strengthening and lower extremity flexibility is recommended.
If you know a young individual who has non-specific low back pain seek the care of a physical therapist who can help guide you as to what the most appropriate avenue of treatment should be. If it is truly diagnosed as spondylolysis, the quicker treatment begins the better the outcome on this potentially debilitating condition.