Back Injuries

Kids & Backpacks

Backpacks, which are typically part of kids' daily routine, can become a real problem. Over time, backpacks worn incorrectly or packed too full can harm the backand result in poor posture. In an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons study, 58 percent of orthopedists reported having seen patients with back and shoulder pain related to backpacks.

The AAOS recommends the following guidelines for wearing backpacks:

  • Use a hip strap for heavy backpacks.
  • Use packs with wide, padded straps as well as a padded back.
  • Always use both straps when wearing a backpack to distribute weight evenly.
  • Make sure the bottom of the backpack falls two inches above the waist.
  • Exercise to strengthen back muscles.
  • Bend at the knees to lift a heavy pack.
  • Heavier items should be packed against the center of the back.
  • Stop at your locker to switch out books between classes.
  • Consider purchasing a second set of books for home.
  • Consider purchasing a lightweight backpack or a pack with wheels.


Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine into an "S" or "C" shape. According to the Mayo Clinic, 2 percent of the population has scoliosis and 80 percent of those cases are idiopathic scoliosis, which means "cause unknown." Girls are more likely to develop scoliosis than boys, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. After the age of 8, children exhibiting any of the following signs should be examined:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven waist
  • Leaning to one side
  • Elevated hips
  • Prominent shoulder blade(s)

Scoliosis may be genetically linked, so it is a good idea for a child to be examined if they have a parent or sibling with the disease. Click here to learn more about scoliosis.