If you’re like most Americans “Top Doc” Dr. Nikesh Seth treats at Integrated Pain Consultants, you might have some type of back pain year-round. Many people work in either sedentary jobs where they’re staring at a screen or a physically demanding job where they’re at risk of repetitive stress injuries. However, this time of year there’s another demographic that will start experiencing an increase in back pain—children and teenagers.
In 2018, India introduced new guidelines for students that limited the weight of backpacks. The country also banned some homework, but it wasn’t strictly to help reduce mental stress. The goal was to decrease damage to children’s backs. While the US doesn’t have national guidelines on backpack weights or homework limits to minimize how many hours your children are hunched over their desks, it might be a good idea to identify some household guidelines.
Back pain is a serious issue for the majority of Americans, and while treatment for back pain is available, it’s always a good idea to prevent it when possible. This starts in childhood with best homework and school practices. India’s guidelines are specifically targeting children ages 7 – 13 after finding that this age group carries half of their body weight in their backpacks. Now, backpack weights are limited to 10 percent of the students’ body weight. Indian doctors have been noticing a “dramatic increase” in back pain among children.
There is some good news. Backpacks are proven to be the best means of distributing weight compared to messenger bags, shoulder bags, or purses, and the majority of students in both India and the US use backpacks—and use them correctly. Still, we have a long way to go. It’s estimated in the US that 33 percent of children with low back pain miss school because of it, and 55 percent of children in one survey carry backpacks with up to 15 percent of their body weight.
As your children (or you!) go back to school, consider changes you can make to limit stress and back pain. Good posture while walking and sitting, using roller bags, and checking in with your back’s stress levels are all great practices. If you or your child already have back pain, it’s time to get a professional in your corner. Schedule a detailed evaluation by booking your appointment online with Integrated Pain Consultants today.