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School Bags and Low Back Pain In Children and Teenagers

For many years, chiropractors and chiropractic organizations have been warning of the harmful side effects experienced by children and teens who carry excessively heavy school bags and back packs and/or practice improper bag carrying techniques. A recent study published in the internationally recognized medical journal Spine has just reinforced what chiropractors have been teaching parents and their children for decades - school bags and back packs can be a serious threat to the spinal health of children and teens. In the study, researchers examined the relationship between low back pain and the various types of school furniture, physical dimensions of the teens and the physical loading generated by school bag carrying. In all, 446 adolescents aged 14 to 17 participated in the study by completing questionnaires and having their body dimensions and school bag weights examined. Surprisingly, more than 50 percent of the adolescents reported to having low back pain in the prior 3 months and approximately 25 percent reported reduced daily function or care seeking due to low back pain. After evaluating all the evidence, researchers found the low back pain experienced by the adolescents was not a result of their varying body dimensions or the school furniture. Rather, researchers found the low back pain was positively associated with carrying the school bag on one shoulder resulting in significant asymmetry and spinal stress to the body.

Source: Spine. 32(24):E713-E717, November 15, 2007.