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Lower Back Pain: How to Care for Your Child

Lower back pain can happen for many different reasons. It can come on slowly or suddenly and be a dull ache or sharp stabbing pain. It usually gets better within a few weeks. Follow these instructions to care for your child.

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  • Your child should continue with regular activities. Bed rest is not recommended. They can go to school, drive, and do low-impact activities such as walking, biking, or swimming. If the activity makes the pain worse or they feel like they can't continue it, they can take a break and try it later or the next day.

  • To ease strain on the back, your child should take a break from heavy lifting.

  • Follow your health care provider's recommendations for: 

    • how long to take a break from sports, high-impact activities, and anything that involves a lot of twisting or bending

    • any stretching or strengthening exercises

    • seeing a physical therapist

For pain, your child can:

  • Take ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand), if recommended by your health care provider. Follow the directions on the label for how much they should take and how often.

  • Put a cold pack on the back for 15–20 minutes every 3–4 hours for the first few days after the injury. Place a towel or cloth between the cold pack and the skin.

  • Apply a heating pad or heat pack to the back. 

  • Massage the area.

  • Soak in a warm tub once or twice a day.

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Your child:

  • has pain that is severe or gets worse

  • still has pain after about 2 weeks

  • has back pain that wakes them from sleep

  • has pee or poop accidents

  • can't do everyday activities like driving and walking because of the back pain

  • has leg pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness

  • has a change in the way they walk

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What causes lower back pain? Lower back pain may be caused by:

  • lifting heavy objects

  • sitting in one position for too long

  • sports or activities that involve a lot of twisting or bending

  • other medical conditions

What can help prevent back pain? It may help for your child to:

  • Work with a sports trainer to make sure they don't overtrain and that they warm up and cool down correctly.

  • Avoid carrying very heavy objects. 

  • Get plenty of physical activity to keep muscles strong.

  • Stay at a healthy weight.

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