Document Detail

Back pain during growth.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23299906     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
It is wrong to believe that back pain only burdens adults: the yearly incidence during growth ranges from 10-20%, continuously increasing from childhood to adolescence. Rapid growth-related muscular dysbalance and insufficiency, poor physical condition in an increasingly sedentary adolescent community or - vice versa - high level sports activities, account for the most prevalent functional pain syndromes. In contrast to adults the correlation of radiographic findings with pain is high: the younger the patient, the higher the probability to establish a rare morphologic cause such as benign or malignant tumours, congenital malformations and infections. In children younger than 5 years old, the likelihood is more than 50%. The following red flags should lower the threshold for a quick in-depth analysis of the problem: Age of the patient <5 years, acute trauma, functional limitation for daily activities, irradiating pain, loss of weight, duration >4 weeks, history of tumour, exposition to tuberculosis, night pain and fever. High level sport equals a biomechanical field test which reveals the biologic individual response of the growing spine to the sports-related forces. Symptomatic or asymptomatic inhibitory or stimulatory growth disturbances like Scheuermann disease, scoliosis or fatigue fractures represent the most frequent pathomorphologies. They usually occur at the disk-growth plate compound: intraspongious disk herniation, diminuition of anterior growth with vertebral wedging and apophyseal ring fractures often occur when the biomechanical impacts exceed the mechanical resistance of the cartilaginous endplates. Spondylolysis is a benign condition which rarely becomes symptomatic and responds well to conservative measures. Associated slippage of L5 on S1 is frequent but rarely progresses. The pubertal spinal growth spurt is the main risk factor for further slippage, whereas sports activity - even at a high level - is not. Therefore, the athlete should only be precluded from training if pain persists or in case of high grade slips. Perturbance of the sagittal profile with increase of lumbar lordosis, flattening of the thoracic spine and retroflexion of the pelvis with hamstrings contractures are strong signs for a grade IV olisthesis or spondyloptosis with subsequent lumbosacral kyphosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is not related to pain unless it is a marked (thoraco-) lumbar curve or if there is an underlying spinal cord pathology. Chronic back pain is an under recognised entity characterised by its duration (>3 months or recurrence within 3 months) and its social impacts such as isolation and absence from school or work. It represents an independent disease, uncoupled from any initial trigger. Multimodal therapeutic strategies are more successful than isolated, somatising orthopaedic treatment. Primary and secondary preventive active measures for the physically passive adolescents, regular sports medical check-up's for the young high level athletes, the awareness for the rare but potentially disastrous pathologies and the recognition of chronic pain syndromes are the cornerstones for successful treatment of back pain during growth.
C C Hasler
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2013-01-08
Journal Detail:
Title:  Swiss medical weekly     Volume:  143     ISSN:  1424-3997     ISO Abbreviation:  Swiss Med Wkly     Publication Date:  2013  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-01-09     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  100970884     Medline TA:  Swiss Med Wkly     Country:  Switzerland    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  0     Citation Subset:  IM    
University Children's Hospital, Basel, SWITZERLAND;
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