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Kids in a "Pack" of Trouble

  • Category: News, Spine
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Dr. Michael L. Gordon
Kids in a "Pack" of Trouble

A Staple for School…Backpacks are Stylish, Trendy and Perhaps, the Start of Back Pain 

They are fashion for some, functional for others. They are the ever-present backpack. Big packs, designer packs, grungy ones and those worn down to the threads, they are the lunch boxes and lockers of today’s students.

But backpacks could be a harbinger of future health concerns, according to local health experts. Some kids wear their backpacks slung low, hanging off one shoulder or loaded with so much “stuff” that students are straining to keep them balanced on their shoulders and backs.

“Couple this with the poor posture of youth and you have a recipe for back pain,” said Michael Gordon, M.D., a spine surgeon at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine. “It’s not so much the backpack that causes pain and discomfort, but the way in which they are carried and loaded.” The misuse of backpacks has kids sharing stories of aches and pains common to adult conversations: low back pain, pinched nerves on the shoulders and arms, pulled muscles, bursitis, and strains.

“While back pain and the like are more common to older adults, it does make me wonder if in the future a whole generation of people will experience more back pain because of the posture and contortions caused by improper backpack wearing,” said Dr. Gordon.

“A pack should be large enough to accommodate your gear, convenient to load and unload, durable and comfortable to wear. When backpacking, balance and convenience are critical. If you expect good footing, load the pack so that the heavier items are high and close to your back,” he added.

According to Dr. Gordon, the best advice for the backpack set: don’t overload it, make sure it fits your body type and stand up straight using both shoulder straps to maintain equal balance.

About Michael L. Gordon, M.D.

Dr. Michael L. GordonDr. Michel L. Gordon is a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine. Dr. Gordon specializes in a range of spine surgeries from minimally invasive spine surgery to complex spinal deformities of the cervical and lumbar spine.