Back Pain

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The pediatric orthopedic specialists with Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville (COOL), affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, are the foremost providers of pediatric orthopedic care in Louisville, Kentucky, and Southern Indiana. Our pediatric orthopedic specialists understand that growing children have their own unique needs. Our pediatric orthopedic specialists are fellowship trained and provide specialized care for children and teens with back pain.

What Is Back Pain in Children and Teens?

It’s a common misconception that only older people experience back pain. If your child has back pain, it is a valid concern that should be evaluated. Back pain in children and teens can affect quality of life as well as normal activity.

Back pain in children often improves with rest, medicines and physical therapy, if needed. However, some children may have pain that lingers or disappears and returns. Talking to your child’s pediatrician about their back pain symptoms can help you discover if your child needs to be seen by a pediatric orthopedic physician.

For some children, back pain is a symptom of a larger condition that may need surgery or other treatment.

What Causes Back Pain In Children?

Children and teens can experience back pain for a variety of reasons.

Some causes of back pain in children include:

  • Scoliosis: While uncommon, back pain can be caused by scoliosis.
  • Spondylolysis: For children experiencing back pain with spondylolysis, it usually is associated with a stress fracture.
  • Adolescent intervertebral disc herniation: A child can experience back pain when a disc that cushions the vertebrae herniates (ruptures), causing pressure on the spinal nerves or spinal cord.
  • Infection: Back pain can be caused by an infection in the disc, vertebra or back part of the pelvis.

Back Pain Treatment

A physician from COOL will assess your child’s condition and pinpoint the source of back pain through various testing that may include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), EOS imaging and bone scan.

Once the source of your child’s back pain is identified, we create an individualized treatment plan for your child.

Some treatments, depending on the source of your child’s back pain, may include:

  • Braces
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Growing rods
  • Spinal fusion
  • Stress fracture reconstruction
  • Vertical expandable prosthetic titanium ribs (VEPTR)

Most children who experience back pain heal quickly and continue to lead healthy lives after treatment. Children with spine conditions such as scoliosis, spondylolysis or disc herniation may require ongoing follow-up care after surgery, if needed.

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