Back pain in children is due to a variety of causes, though generally speaking the symptoms are not indicative of serious illnesses. It is very rare for back pain in children to be due to problems with bones or vertebrae or the disks linking one vertebra to another: infections, tumors or deformities. In such cases, the best thing to do is consult a specialist and follow his/her advice. Examples of organic or specific causes include spondylolisthesis, Scheuermann's kyphosis, herniated disc, scoliosis and others.
In approximately 90% of cases, the causes of back pain cannot be accurately identified and the child is diagnosed as suffering from nonspecific pain. This pain tends to be associated with physical activity or its opposite: being sedentary. Excesses of both activity and inactivity can result in back pain, either by over-exerting the back muscles or from sustained poor posture over time (watching TV, playing video games, being on the computer or studying).
In fact, a great many of the most common back problems in children are caused by the excess weight of school backpacks which not only strain the muscles but also force the child to adopt a poor posture to support the weight of their everyday material, lunch pack and drinks. Another common cause is high intensity exercises or those that put excessive strain on the back.
The best way of avoiding back pain is to adopt the appropriate posture
When traveling in a car, a child with back pain should maintain the correct posture at all times. Unless the pain is associated with an illness that may require the use of an orthopedic brace, such as kyphosis or curvature of the spine, or any other illness requiring the use of a special seat, the child should be seated correctly in their child seat which should be inclined appropriately.
It is good for children with back problems to be aware of them and try not to move too much in their seat, although if the child is correctly secured with harnesses (in the case of lower age group seats), freedom of back movement will be limited; if they are already using a booster seat, it is advisable to involve the child in dealing with their problem, telling them the best way of avoiding back pain in the car and making them aware of the benefits of maintaining the correct posture throughout the entire journey.
It is also important to prevent pain caused by everyday poor posture through regular exercise appropriate to the age group, and by maintaining the right posture all day long and in every situation, not only in the car: sitting up straight with the back pressed against the seat back and the legs positioned correctly; sleeping on a firm mattress (or at least not too soft); carrying the right amount of weight in school backpacks, etc.