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Pack Troubles From Back-to-School Backpacks
by Dr. Sandra Simpson
March 29, 2001
you sending your child off to the first day of school with a brand new
backpack slung over his or her shoulder? If you're like most parents, a
new backpack was on your child's back to school shopping list. Although
these bags have become as common as pencils and chalkboards in schools
across the country, according to chiropractors, you may want to think
before putting your youngster on the bus with this school yard
New research reveals an alarming danger associated with childhood
This research stems from the increasing number of reports of childhood back pain in recent decades. By the end of their teen years, more than 50% of youths experience at least one low back pain episode (Spine 1998; 23:228-34). And new research indicates that this increase may be due, in part, to the improper use of backpacks. But you don't need to be a scientist to understand the effects of backpacks on young spines; watch children in any school yard struggle to walk while bent sideways under the weight of an overloaded backpack on one shoulder - and you'll quickly realize the potential danger of this commonplace item.
But your child doesn't have to be the only "un-cool" kid without a backpack this fall. Read on to learn how your youngster can carry a backpack and keep his or her back pain and injury free!
Backpacks Attack on Backs
How exactly does carrying a backpack affect the spine? "Common sense tells us that a heavy load, distributed improperly or unevenly, day after day, is indeed going to cause stress to a growing spinal column," explains Dr. Marvin T. Arnsdorff, chiropractor and co-founder of the Backpack Safety America school education program. "The old adage 'as the twig is bent, so grows the tree' comes to mind. We are seeing a growing concern about the improper use of backpacks and the relatively scarce amount of educational and preventive information available to young people."
Commission estimates that 4,928 emergency room visits each year result
from injuries related to book bags and back carriers. Schlepping around
a back pack can cause not only acute injury, but also long term damage.
Hauling a heavy
over one shoulder every day may provoke serious postural misalignments.
Postural imbalances often trigger a condition called vertebral
Vertebral subluxations are dysfunctional areas in the spine where
is restricted or bones (vertebrae) are out of alignment. This disorder
predisposes patients to a myriad of ailments such as neck and back
headaches and osteoarthritis.
In addition, a recent scientific experiment found that the mobility of spinal bones, leading to restricted movement - a risk factor for back pain (Surg Radiol Anat 1999; 21:109-13). Another study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the intervertebral discs of the spine, the fluid filled "pillows" between spinal bones. According to the article, backpacks alter the fluid content of these discs, a risk factor for disc herniation ("slipped disc") and osteoarthritis (Spine 1999; 15:1015-22)
A Cure for the Back Pain Blues
Fortunately, there is a solution to this childhood health care crisis: chiropractic care. Chiropractors are experts in spinal biomechanics and backpack safety techniques. As prevention specialists, chiropractors work to educate the community about the proper use of backpacks. In addition, doctors of chiropractic offer spinal checkups for youngsters. These checkups include a thorough postural assessment, evaluation for vertebral subluxations, and specific recommendations for injury prevention. If you're a parent, don't ignore this potential threat to your child's health. Schedule a chiropractic evaluation for your youngster today.
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