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It is common for children to experience back pain, especially if they are involved in athletic pursuits. But that does not mean the issue should be taken lightly. If your child is experiencing pain in their spinal region, that very well may indicate that they have suffered a serious back injury that will require medical attention to heal properly.

If your child complains of pain that does not subside within at least three days of rest, professional help is required. There are a wide variety of back injuries that will not heal unless properly treated; in fact, unless handled with care, these injuries can lead to ongoing problems that become harder to treat as they progress. If caught early, however, treatment is far more likely to be successful and efficient. Here are some examples of back injuries children often experience:

Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joint syndrome is caused by a deterioration of the facet joints, which allow the back to be flexible. The facet joints also have nerves in them that send signals from the spinal cord to the rest of the body, which is an essential process for the central nervous system.

The syndrome occurs when the cartilage between the joints deteriorates, often due to excessive motion. The vertebrae then begin to rub directly against one another, which is both damaging and extremely painful.

The location of back pain caused by facet joint syndrome occurs in whatever region of the spine is damaged. In children, this is often in the lower back. It is not unusual for pain to spread to the buttocks or lower thighs. If the upper or middle back is affected, pain can also be felt in the neck and shoulders.

Spondylolysis

Excessive stress placed on the spine can cause stress fractures, resulting in a back injury called spondylolysis. These fractures weaken the constitution of the spine and can be very painful.

Athletes are most at risk for developing spondylolysis, as they place the most stress on their spine. This is especially true for gymnasts and football players, as their respective sports are very taxing on the lumbar region.

The pain experienced by someone with stress fractures often spreads across the lower back, but it can also occur in other portions of the spine. If the vertebrae begin to shift position, the resulting nerve compression can lead to muscle spasms.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one of the lumbar vertebrae (the bottom five vertebrae that comprise the lower back) slides forward, distorting the shape of the spine. When this occurs, many of the nerves surrounding the spine can be compressed.

Spondylolisthesis can be caused by a birth defect or spondylolysis. But intense stress placed on the lower regions of the spine can also be enough to slide vertebrae forward without any previous conditions.

Sometimes spondylolisthesis will not trigger any pain, but when it does, it often occurs in the lower back and legs; hamstring spasms and foot numbness due to nerve disruption are also common.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to take them to the doctor. Advanced Spine Center in Plano, led by Dr. Stephen Courtney, gets their valued patients back to their lives so they can enjoy all of the activities they love. Visit advancedspinecenters.com for more information.