Kids with Migraine: How Chiropractic Can Help

Headaches are common in children, but their treatment presents a challenge for doctors. The medical approach to treating children with headaches involves both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions. To add to the evidence of the safety and effectiveness of spinal manipulative therapy, a team of researchers recently published a case report of chiropractic care for a child with migraines.

The case study involved an 11-year-old boy who had suffered from recurrent headaches for the past four years. The patient had previously been diagnosed with “migraine-type headaches.” Prescribed medications provided only minor, temporary relief from the patient’s mild to moderate headaches, occurring two to three times per month.

The patient underwent five sessions of chiropractic care over four weeks. Each treatment involved high-velocity, low-amplitude thrusts to sites of spinal segmental dysfunction. Nine months following treatment, the patient reported experiencing only a “couple of mild headaches but no migraine-type headaches.”

The researchers described this successful chiropractic care of a pediatric patient with migraine-type headaches, but cautioned against generalizing for all pediatric migraines. They encourage greater reporting of case studies to build the foundation for further research investigating the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments for the treatment of pediatric headaches.

Evaluating the Backpacks of Teens with Back Pain

With the end of summer just around the corner, here’s something to consider when you’re shopping for school supplies: how heavy is your child’s backpack?

Weighty backpacks have received increasing attention in recent years as the persistent cause of back, neck, and shoulder problems in kids. Research suggests that children with back pain often develop chronic symptoms lasting into adulthood, making it all the more important to tackle back and neck pain early in life.

Current guidelines recommend that backpacks shouldn’t exceed 10-15% of a child’s body weight. However new research suggests that those guidelines may need to be amended to account for gender differences and the type of school bag children use.

In a recent study published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, researchers analyzed the prevalence of back, neck, and shoulder pain in 586 schoolchildren aged 12-14 years. They measured children’s weight, height, BMI, and the weight of their school. Children reported how they carried their bags (over one shoulder, with both shoulders, or carrying with a hand) and the type of bag they carried (back pack, satchel, or brief case).

The majority of kids (59.6%) reported some type of neck, back, or shoulder pain. More than a third of children (35.3%) reported neck pain, more than a quarter of kids (26.2%) had low-back pain, and 33% of children had shoulder pain.

Kids who carried backpacks for more than 20 minutes or who had heavier bags were more likely to suffer from neck pain. Those who carried a backpack were more likely to suffer from low-back pain compared to kids using a satchel or briefcase. Carrying school bags by one hand or over one shoulder only slightly increased the risk of neck, back, and shoulder pain.

Gender was found to have the biggest impact on the risk of musculoskeletal complaints, even after controlling for age and BMI. Girls were more than twice as likely to have back pain and nearly twice as likely to suffer from shoulder pain. These findings are in-line with previous research demonstrating the higher incidence of musculoskeletal conditions among girls. The researchers wrote that “gender differences need to be considered when setting weight limits for schoolchildren.”

The study suggest that girls may need to take additional steps to prevent back, neck, and shoulder pain. Chiropractic care is a safe, effective way to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal pain in kids. A chiropractor can use chiropractic adjustments, posture education, and exercise to naturally relieve spinal pain.

Height and Weight Affect Prevalence of Teen Back Pain

It seems that back pain has become a problem that begins far earlier in life than it used to, for far too many young people. Studies show that around 12% of teens have some degree of pain in their low backs.

Scientists have also conducted research linking patient body mass index (BMI) to low-back pain. They have found that obese patients do not recover as effectively from back pain as those who are not obese.

Among the adolescent population, evidence linking obesity to low-back pain has been lacking. To remedy this, researchers recently examined the prevalence of low-back pain in teens, and analyzed how BMI and height influenced the likelihood of adolescent back pain.

For the study, researchers used data from nearly 830,000 medical examinations conducted by the military for mandatory recruitment screenings over more than 20 years’ time. Among these, the severity of those with low-back pain was determined by attached disability clauses, the military’s official way of setting health-related limitations on new recruits. Among the records of those with low-back pain disability clauses, researchers categorized the young men and women as having low-back pain alone or low-back pain with other evidence that corroborated the claim of back pain.

For low-back pain alone, the study found that 5.2% of males and 2.7% of females complained about pain. For both genders, the prevalence dropped to 0.2% when looking for patients who had objective back-pain evidence.

Higher BMI was significantly associated with low-back pain in both genders. Being overweight or obese greatly increased the chance for low-back pain.

Height was also linked to low-back pain in both sexes. The tallest teens were at greater risk of suffering from back pain than the shortest teens.

Chiropractors help teen patients, whether they are struggling with their weight, battling low-back pain, or both.

Kids With Back Pain: A Growing Trend

The problem of children and adolescents with low-back pain (LBP) is important among pediatric and chiropractic professionals. The prevalence of young people with LBP has been growing, and the reason for this is not clear. As children get older and into their teen years, their chances of having LBP increase significantly, and former research has shown that about 12% of teens have at least some degree of pain in the low-back. Another study’s results showed that 24% of schoolchildren in England aged 11-14 had LBP for at least one month.

Scientists and doctors have debated about risk factors. Some say that school furniture is not ergonomically configured; others say that today’s kids carry too many school books in their backpacks; still others blame the amount of strenuous physical activity that children and teens are exposed to. In addition, there has been some evidence that suggests that psychological and pyschosocial factors may also contribute to the increase in LBP in young people.

Another possible source of LBP in children and adolescents is herniation in the intervertebral disc joint.  Although this is a rare condition among young people, it can be quite painful and difficult to treat.

In a recent case study, researchers followed the treatment of a 13-year-old boy with chronic LBP. The young patient had a four-month history of pain localized in his right low-back. He described his pain as “achy and annoying,” preventing him from sitting for long periods and resulting in him missing a significant amount of school and most physical activities. He had tried taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and he had also been treated with chiropractic high velocity low amplitude and low force spinal manipulation, but had not experienced any lasting relief.

The researchers determined that the boy’s pain was a result of a intervertebral discogenic hernia, likely from a bicycling fall he had endured shortly before the pain started. They concluded that in cases of chronic LBP in young people, especially when chiropractic manual therapy is not helping, providers should consider the possibility of discogenic causes, from annular tears, a hernia, or vertebral endplate injury. They also concluded that MRI can be a useful tool in diagnosing such problems. They highlighted the importance of resolving lumbopelvic function among young patients, to avoid negative effects on their growing spines and improve their quality of life.

The study authors also agreed that more research is needed about the long-term implications of these types of disc injuries among young patients, and how to manage them as non-invasively as possible.

Previous research has shown that chiropractic manual therapy combined with exercise is the best treatment for most back pain in teens.

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