Back pain in children

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By Asiya Khan Shakir MD, Basheer Shakir MD, and Ian Heger MD

Asiya Khan Shakir MD, Basheer Shakir MD, and Ian Heger MD of the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University explore current concepts related to back pain in the pediatric population. This article highlights the multifactorial nature of back pain in children and adolescents, with a systematic discussion on the history, varied clinical manifestations, pathophysiology, prognoses, treatments, and diagnostic modalities for each of the etiologies. Additionally, the authors address prenatal trunk development, cutting edge genetic research, and updated epidemiological data.

Key points

  • Prevalence of back pain at the age of 15 is about 53%, which means back pain is much more common in the pediatric population than previously thought.
  • History and physical examination are imperative in guiding the correct diagnosis of back pain. Diagnostic modalities like x-rays, SPECT, and MRI scans can help investigators further pinpoint the diagnosis.
  • Back pain in children presents in a bimodal age distribution, which correlates with prepubertal and pubertal growth spurts.
  • Physical therapy, rehabilitation, education, steroid therapy as well as other medications, and surgery are treatment options for back pain.

In This Article

Historical note and nomenclature
Clinical manifestations
Clinical vignette
Differential diagnosis and etiology
Diagnostic workup
Prognosis and complications