Backpacks: A textbook carrier or chronic pain enhancer?

When your child comes home from school and tells you what a pain in the neck their day was you wouldn’t think they actually meant physical pain in their neck. A series of studies conducted by Consumer Reports accounted 7,000 emergency room visits in 2001 to backpack-related injuries, and found the average backpack weighed in at 17.2 pounds: some even topping the scales at 30 pounds! Not only are children carrying too much weight in the bags, but they are not wearing them properly. The misuse and exceeding number of weight limitations is causing major problems of the back and neck. At Southwest Spine and Pain Center, a patient with back or neck problems can guarantee an effective treatment plan and warranted advice to keep them safe from further damage and injury.

States across the nation are quickly taking action on this problem. Recently, California State Assembly passed legislation that would enforce backpack weight limitations. The American Chiropractic Association urges school districts to research and require the use of ergonomically safe backpacks. They believe a child’s backpack should not exceed more than 10 percent of the child’s body weight. These legislations are being considered in many other states as the number of back and neck problems are exceedingly rising.

As a parent, or a student, you should be on the lookout for things that could potentially harm your body in regards to the backpack. Follow these guidelines when considering how much weight your pack can handle:

  1. Make sure the bottom of the backpack is lined up with the curve of your lower back (no more than 4 inches below the waistline).
  2. The backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight.
  3. Choose a backpack that has wide, padded shoulder straps.
  4. Always wear both straps. The disproportion of weight can cause neck and muscle spasms and severe low back pain.
  5. Utilize the individualized compartments in the backpack. They help with positioning the materials more effectively.

The misuse or overweight affects of the backpack can be seriously detrimental. Heavy weight can distort the curves in the back and spine causing a person’s posture to become negatively compromised. Prolonged back pain and muscle strain could permanently injure the back and neck and result in chronic back pain. Southwest Spine and Pain Center physicians strongly urge their patients to learn more about what they can do to avoid future back and neck problems.

If chronic pain is impacting your life, don't wait to schedule an appointment at Southwest Spine and Pain Center. With three locations and growing, the pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are dedicated to helping those who suffer from chronic pain live the life they want to! To schedule an appointment, visit our locations tab!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

©Southwest Spine and Pain Center, 2013

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