As children head back to school, it’s natural for parents to fret about the emotional health of their kids—how they’ll react to new teachers, new friends, and new course work. But let’s not overlook the physical implications of a return to school, especially when it comes to the backpacks kids are lugging to class each day.
“The backpacks are huge!” says Stuart Braun, MD, Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedics at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. “Kids are hauling two- or three-inch textbooks in them; they’re carrying large binders that build through the year.”
The most telling symptom of a backpack issue is back pain experienced by the child who carries the backpack. Dr. Braun says the back pain could be caused by problems with fitness or obesity, but it’s also possible that an improperly fitted or worn-out backpack is the culprit. Used improperly, backpacks can lead to what the American Academy of Pediatrics calls “severe back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.”
Dr. Braun stresses that most children have no issues with either back pain or backpacks, but encourages parents to be on the lookout if a child complains of back pain. “Sometimes back pain is concerning in children,” he says. “It’s not something we should ignore, and parents may want to have their child looked at.”
To connect with Dr. Braun for any orthopaedic concerns about a child, call 617-636-7920.