Back Pain in Kids: Can education help?

An estimated 17-58% of schoolchildren suffer from back pain, and a quarter of those kids could go on to develop persistent pain.1-2 Helping children develop healthy habits for preventing back pain could allow them to avoid that fate. A new study of schoolchildren tested the efficacy of an education intervention in improving students' knowledge and behavior of back-pain prevention.3

A week after receiving a lesson on preventing pain, children's scores on a back-pain knowledge test improved by 30%, and their behavior test scores increased by 22%. Their scores continued to be consistently better than children not involved in the education intervention. Despite these significant improvements, their knowledge and behavior scores deteriorated after three months, highlighting the need for ongoing education.

The researchers also pointed out that the intervention "was more effective on the improvement of knowledge than behaviour." They suggested that many factors lead to children not implementing preventative strategies including poor school infrastructure and furniture, a lack of lockers, long walking commutes, large class size that made it difficult for teachers to monitor students' posture, and inadequate understanding of back-pain prevention among parents. After a full day of sitting at cramped desks and carrying heavy backpacks long distances, many children experienced some form of musculoskeletal pain: 58% had neck pain, 69.3% had shoulder pain, 74.4% had upper back pain, 81.7% had low-back pain, 55.1% had knee pain, and 60.9% had finger and wrist pain.

These numbers could increase with time as children are exposed to additional risk factors with age. Researchers suggested a number of ways to prevent pain in schoolchildren including informing parents about pain risk factors, integrating back-pain education in the curriculum, and improving school infrastructure to reduce the time children have to carry heavy backpacks. A doctor of chiropractic can work with you and your child to understand how to prevent and reduce back pain.


  1. Smith DR, Leggat PA. Back pain in the young: a review of studies conducted among school children and university students. Curr Pediatr Rev 2007; 3: 69-77.
  2. Jones GT, Macfarlane GJ. Predicting persistent low back pain in schoolchildren: a prospective cohort study. Arthritis Rheum.2009;61(10):1359.
  3. Habybabady RH, et al. Efficacy and impact of back care education on knowledge and behaviour of elementary schoolchildren. J of Pak Med Assoc 2012; 62(6): 580