The term "lower back pain" does not seem to exist in teen vocabulary. A youth's muscles and spine are normally strong and resilient. However, health care providers report a recent upsurge in back problems due to obesity, bad video game posture, and other causes. Concerned physiotherapists are fighting to reverse back problems in children and teens throughout the United Kingdom.
Back pain from stiletto heels and video games
Most teens are "fashionistas" at heart. They are avid consumers of the latest computer games, hand bags and stiletto heels. Oddly enough, the misuse of these products can lead to long-term back and neck pain. Researchers at the University School of Physical Education in Krakow, found that young women who wear stiletto heels for prolonged periods of time can develop "chronic paraspinal muscle fatigue". New York University ergonomics expert, Robin Mary Gillespie, suggests that children who sit in "sustained and akward postures" while playing video games may be at greater risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders than children engaged in other forms of sedentary activity. Overloaded back packs can cause neck, shoulder and back pain. Teens are advised to choose packs with well-padded straps. They should avoid carrying books, hand bags, totes or other heavy items which exceed ten percent of their body weight.
How obesity causes back injury in teens
Chartered Physiotherapist Lorna Taylor, of Children First Physiotherapy in Derby, England, specialises in paediatrics, occupational health and egonomics. She has seen an increase in back pain in children as young as six due to various factors, including lack of fitness and obesity. Ms. Taylor explains that young growing spines are more susceptible to pain or injury due to modern lifestyle changes. She describes how infants are sometimes confined to small rooms in day care centers, with little opportunity to climb, crawl or explore outdoors. Due to safety concerns, children and teenagers are often discouraged from walking to school or exercising outdoors. Lorna Taylor speaks about the affect of obesity on a teenager's lower back, saying, "When a child is obese, the excess weight tends to move the centre of gravity forwards. This results in a compensatory, increased lumbar lordosis - a lower inward curve - to realign balance and maintain eye contact. This causes shortening of back muscles, quicker fatigue and susceptibility to cumulative strain injury." Teens with severe back pain are four times as likely to have back problems as adults. Ms. Taylor and other physiologists from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy are striving to reverse this trend by visiting schools and educating children about exercise, healthy diet and proper ergonomics in the United Kingdom. Ms. Taylor has developed the Healthy Backs School Education Programme as part of the Derby City Healthy Schools Initiative.