Lower Back Pain


Lower Back Pain: How to Care for Your Child

Lower Back Pain: How to Care for Your Child

Lower back pain, sometimes called lumbago, can happen for many different reasons, and it can come on slowly or suddenly. Most cases of back pain are not serious and go away with rest and basic home care.

Care Instructions

  • Your child should take a break from activities that cause pain or put stress on the back, such as running and jumping. Your child may try a low-impact exercise (such as swimming or biking) as long as it doesn't cause pain.
  • If your child is uncomfortable, you can give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand) OR ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand), if recommended by your health care provider.
  • For the first few days, it can help to put a cold pack on the back for 15–20 minutes every 3–4 hours. Place a towel or cloth between the cold pack and the skin.
  • After the first few days, applying a heating pad or hot pack to the area may help to relieve back pain.
  • Massaging the area also may help.
  • Your health care provider may recommend specific stretches or exercises, or refer your child to a physical therapist.
  • When returning to sports, your child should wear supportive athletic shoes.
  • Making smart backpack choices can reduce back strain. Be sure your child does not carry more than 10% to 20% of his or her body weight in the pack. The backpack also should have a padded back and two wide shoulder straps. Your child should always wear it with both straps.
  • Schedule follow-up appointments as directed by your health care provider.

Call Your Healthcare Provider if...

Your child:

  • still has pain after following the care instructions
  • has back pain that happens at night or keeps him or her awake
  • has pain that is severe or gets worse
  • has pee or poop accidents
  • loses weight
  • can't do normal activities

Go to the ER if...

Your child develops:

  • leg pain or weakness
  • trouble walking
  • numbness or tingling
  • a fever

More to Know

What causes back pain? Back pain can be caused by:

  • lifting heavy objects
  • sitting in one position for too long
  • poor posture
  • stress
  • sports or activities that involve a lot of twisting or bending
  • an injury from a fall
  • carrying a heavy backpack or book bag
  • sleeping on a very soft mattress
  • other medical conditions