When most people think about back pain or neck pain, they tend to picture people who are older. But musculoskeletal pain is a problem that can affect younger people and the chiropractors at Latrobe Health Centre are seeing no shortage of Geelong teenagers with back and neck pain.
Back pain is common in childhood and the research is telling us that having back pain at a young age can make it more likely that they will suffer ongoing pain in adulthood. Needless to say, having chronic pain as a teenager can have a big impact on their lives.
Chronic or intermittent back pain or neck pain can prevent our kids from being able to participate in sport or just keep active. Sport and exercise are a great way for kids to meet new people, gain a sense of belonging by being part of a team, maintain a healthy weight and develop health habits that they can carry on into adulthood. And of course being in pain isn’t much fun, it can become a struggle to stay happy and engaged.
Surprisingly, even though these are common problems in adolescents, there is very little research done by any profession on how best to manage this age group. Most of the information we have comes from what we know works on adults.
So what treatments do our chiropractors use on teenagers and adolescents who have back pain, neck pain, headaches and other musculoskeletal problems?
- Massage and other soft tissue therapy – this can help to reduce pain and improve movement in the affected area
- Exercises – usually our chiropractors only give a few at a time (because most kids get bored with too many). They will often give stretching and strengthening exercises, depending on what’s needed.
- Joint mobilisation – this usually involves gently moving the joints if they are restricted in movement.
- Sitting and postural advice – especially when using mobile devices and watching TV
- Reassurance and advice – like modifying current activity levels in the short term and a plan to build back up again once the problem has settled.
Our Geelong chiropractors will also work with your other health care practitioners, trainers, sports coaches.
What are some things you can do right now if your teenagers have back pain or neck pain?
- If the pain is manageable, get them up and moving around (preferably outside!) – especially if they are complaining about the pain whilst sitting and doing homework or using mobile devices.
- Use some heat on the area – like a hot water bottle or wheat bag. These often help to ease aching muscles
- Some gentle neck and back stretches can help
- Simple analgesics may also help – like kids Panadol
- Distraction – this works pretty well, especially with young kids. If you can get them interested in something else, often they will forget about their pain.
- Simple breathing or relaxation exercises – a favourite of our chiropractors’ is the smiling mind app.