ZocdocAnswersCan children have spinal problems?

Question

Can children have spinal problems?

My 5 year old sometimes complains about a tingling sensation in his legs. There are other times when he complains that his back hurts after he has been playing outside all day. I just assumed that he played too hard or might have twisted wrong when he was on the jungle gym. It didn't occur to me that he may have a spinal problem until my best friend pointed out that there are days when he limps after getting out of bed. I always thought back problems were for older people or those who have strenuous jobs, not children.

Answer

Yes, there are actually a variety of spine problems that can affect children, and certain spine problems that are specific to children. I recommend that you schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician to discuss this concern. Spine problems in children range from congenital defects, to developmental problems, to acquired problems and injuries. Children can suffer from congenital deformities of the spine and neural tube defects like spina bifida, however these problems are often detected quite early in life. As a child's spine develops, it can do so abnormally, leading to medical problems. A very common example of this is scoliosis, which is an abnormal curvature of the spine. And, just like adults, children can acquire problems with their spine due to injuries (of muscles, joints, or bones), overuse problems, or even abnormalities that develop in the way vertebrae in the spine line up with each other. The list goes on to include other less common problems that may cause pain or abnormalities with the spine or nerves. If your child is regularly reporting back pain and tingling in the extremities, especially if it is associated with limping, there is the potential that these could be symptoms of a spine, nerve, hip, or leg problem. Again, please make an appointment to have your child evaluated by a pediatrician or perhaps a pediatric orthopedist or spine specialist.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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