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Improper Backpack Use May Cause Back Pain In Schoolchildren

By Dr. Michael Pritsker, DC

Local chiropractors in San Diego are saying that there is an increasing number of evidence suggesting that carrying heavy backpacks may lead to low back pain in children and adolescents. The exact reason for this remains unclear. Some scientists have theorized that a backpack filled with books, supplies and other school supplies places an immense amount of stress on a child’s spine. This results in sporadic, sometimes forceful pain. Few studies, however, have examined the way children sport backpacks and what effect carrying a pack in an irregular fashion can have on a child’s spinal column.

In a cross-sectional study that was performed by investigators in Greece, they examined 1,252 children ages 12 to 18 who used backpacks at school. Each child was asked a series of several questions about back pain while carrying their backpack to and from school and during holiday periods. They were also asked questions about participation in sports and how they traveled to/from school. They were also asked the amount of time it took them to travel from home to school and back. In addition to these questions, the children were asked whether they carried their backpacks with one strap over one shoulder which is asymmetrically or straps over both shoulders which are considered to be symmetrical. They were also asked why they carried their backpacks a particular way. Finally, the students were subjected to several series of spinal measurements both without their backpacks and while wearing their backpacks symmetrically and asymmetrically.

The study had some shocking results. The following are just some of the findings. On average, girls were 5.6 times more likely to report suffering from dorsal pain than boys during the school period. No association between gender and low back pain was noted. Symmetrical backpack carrying caused a forward lean in the upper trunk of students and decreased cervical lordosis. Asymmetrical backpack carrying, meanwhile, resulted in students raising the backpack-bearing shoulder and shifting the upper trunk contralaterally. Students who carried backpacks asymmetrically were 2.9 times more likely to suffer from dorsal pain, and five times as likely to suffer from low back pain, as students who wore backpacks symmetrically. Students who carried backpacks asymmetrically were more than four times as likely to suffer from high-intensity pain than students who carried backpacks symmetrically.

While there was no association between time spent carrying backpacks and back pain during the school period, there was “a significant correlation” between time spent to school and back pain during holiday periods. The authors attributed this to a possible “delayed response” to the stresses applied to the spine during school.

While the occurrence of low back pain in schoolchildren varies from country to country, many research studies have shown that it can range from 20% to more than 50% in some populations. Other studies have also revealed that back pain at a premature age may give to an individual experiencing pain as an adult. As a result, the significance of proper backpack use, especially among children, should not be underestimated.

To get a free spinal screening for your child, visit New Century Spine Centers in San Diego. They offer free spinal screenings for children by their top chiropractors. To evaluate your child for backpack safety or scoliosis, contact New Century Spine Centers in San Diego at 619-630-9153 and ask for a spine evaluation.

Want to find out more about backpack safety, then visit New Century Spine Centers site on how to choose the best chiropractor for your needs.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
DC, Dr. M. P. "Improper Backpack Use May Cause Back Pain In Schoolchildren." Improper Backpack Use May Cause Back Pain In Schoolchildren. 2 Jul. 2010. 16 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
DC, D (2010, July 2). Improper Backpack Use May Cause Back Pain In Schoolchildren. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
DC, Dr. M. P. "Improper Backpack Use May Cause Back Pain In Schoolchildren"

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