Back Pain in Teens: When Should Your Child See a Doctor?

Coping with back pain can be debilitating and can easily get in the way of your ability to function or accomplish simple tasks.

While many people think of this problem as affecting adults only, back pain in teens is actually quite common.

If your teenager is suffering from back pain, read on to discover what to look for and when you should consult with your teen’s doctor so they can get relief.

What Causes Lower Back Pain In Teens?

There may be many reasons why a teen is suffering from back pain, but injuries are the most common cause. Automobile accidents, sports-related injuries, or even simple horseplay can result in lower back pain issues.

If your teenager plays a rough sport like football, they’re much more vulnerable to injuries that may result in back pain. Rowdy teens who enjoy skateboarding or bike riding can also be prone to back pain.

Other reasons why teenagers may experience back pain include poor posture or leading a sedentary lifestyle. Teenagers who don’t get enough exercise or who spend most of their time in front of a computer can be at a higher risk than teens who are physically active.

Even things like hormonal changes or genetics can result in back pain in teens. In these cases, the pain is usually temporary until they reach puberty or “outgrow” the issue.

Teenagers who take part in strenuous work may deal with back pain more often than those who don’t. While there may be several different causes, it’s crucial to know the signs and symptoms, and when to take steps to get them relief.


Many teenagers like to mask or hide their pain since it might cause them to feel embarrassed. As a teacher or parent, it’s crucial to look for certain signs that may indicate a teenager is dealing with back-related pain.

If you notice that they’re constantly wincing whenever they bend over, sit down, or stand up, it could be due to back pain. Other signs and symptoms to look for include if your teen has difficulty sitting for long periods of time, or they need to lay down more often than usual.

Sometimes, back pain in teens may be a result of a spinal infection. In these cases, some common symptoms include numbness or weakness, fever, sudden and rapid weight loss, or bowel and bladder problems. These symptoms should never be ignored, and teens should seek treatment immediately.

Teens who complain about constant pain are clearly dealing with feelings of being uncomfortable. While occasional mild back pain is normal, persistent or severe pain should certainly be addressed by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Some other symptoms of back pain in teens include:

  • Limping or walking with an unusual gait
  • Loss of interest in sports or other physical activities
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Pain while urinating
  • Difficulty standing up from a lying or sitting position
  • Night sweats, irritability, or complaining about pain

When to Take Your Teen to See a Doctor

Some level of back pain is considered normal in teenagers, particularly those who are going through puberty. However, if the pain isn’t going away or seems to be getting worse, it might be time to take your teen in for a checkup.

Your doctor will perform a CT scan or X-ray of your teen’s back as well as a physical examination. These tests can help them determine the location of the issue and get a better idea of the possible root cause. Most back injuries are clearly visible through X-rays and scans, while other back pain could require a blood test to determine the cause.

In some cases, the doctor may recommend that your teenager start seeing a chiropractor who can help them with their back issues. There are many chiropractors across the country that treat teens, such as this state college chiropractic center.

If the back pain is a result of a sprain or injury, rest will most likely be the best method of treatment. Over time, the back pain should subside and go away completely as the injury heals.

For more severe instances of back pain in teenagers such as a kidney stone or spinal infection, much more aggressive treatment will be required. The doctor may prescribe medications to alleviate the infection, or they could recommend that your teen be admitted to the hospital if the issue is severe.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly given to people with minor back pain. These medications can be found over-the-counter and via prescription depending on the strength of the medicine that’s required.

Regardless of the reason, it’s best to have your teen see a doctor if they’re complaining of pain or if it’s affecting their daily life. Only a licensed medical professional can diagnose the cause and then give you the right recommendations for treatment.

Don’t Let Your Teen Suffer 

While some back pain in teens is completely normal, other times, the pain could be something much more serious that needs immediate attention. Talk to your teenager and ask them to be open and honest with you about their symptoms so you can be sure that they get the treatment they need.

With the right diagnosis and treatment, most teenagers can eliminate back pain and go on to live a normal, healthy life.

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