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Posted on 08-25-2011

Back pain is common among American adults, but a new and disturbing trend is emerging. Young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations, and the use of overweight backpacks is a contributing factor. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the use of book bags or back carriers resulted in over 6,500 injuries in 2000 alone.

Over the past 10 years, the chiropractic profession is noticing a marked increase in the number of young children who are complaining about back, neck and shoulder pain. This new back pain trend among youngsters isn't surprising when you consider the disproportionate amounts of weight they carry in their backpacks- often slung over just one shoulder.

Dr. Seaman's Backpack Tips for Back to School:

  • Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
  • A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back.
  • Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
  • Wide, padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable, and can dig into your child's shoulders. The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child's teacher. Ask if your child could leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter hand-out materials or workbooks.

What We Can Do for You...

Dr. Seaman is licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages and will use a gentler type of treatment for children. Our special table can be adjusted for people of all sizes. She can also prescribe exercises designed to help children develop strong muscles, along with instruction in good nutrition, posture and sleeping habits. If your child experiences any back shoulder or neck pain, call your doctor of chiropractic right here in Sauganash, Dr. Cynthia Seaman at 773-545-2233 today!

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