Identifying Causes for Spinal Stress in the Child
Jeanne Ohm, DC

Physical trauma to the spine and the result of back pain caused by heavy backpacks has been receiving national attention. Parents are becoming aware of the reality of spinal stress in their children. In addition to the backpack dilemma, there are numerous overlooked causes of children’s spinal injury not as well known. Simply put, any trauma to the spine can cause misalignment of the vertebrae resulting in immediate or delayed spinal problems. Traumas are in the form of micro or macro. Macro-traumas are the obvious falls, bumps, crashes we know children frequently experience. Micro-traumas are those positional/postural repetitive traumas that we do not frequently associate as an onset to spinal distortion and, therefore, future pain. Trauma may cause immediate pain; however, many sources of back and neck pain are the result of previous injuries and then repetitive postural habits exacerbating the original trauma.

Some causes of Macro-traumas in infancy are:
• Operative deliveries (c-sections, forceps, vacuum extraction, and, even, hand deliveries)
• Falls from beds and changing tables
• Learning how to walk, and falling 25 times a day on buttocks
• Auto-accidents (even minor fender benders)
• Tossing babies into air (causes whiplash).

Some causes of Micro-traumas in infancy are:
• Keeping babies in infant carriers and not allowing enough belly time
• The use of walkers and jolly jumpers
• Encouraging babies to stand before they are ready to
• Improper diapering skills.

Some causes of Macro-traumas throughout childhood are:
• Playground injuries
• Falls from play activities (roller blading, sledding, bikes, etc.)
• Sport tumbles, jolts and jars
• Auto accidents, even minor fender-benders.

Some causes of Micro-traumas throughout childhood:
• Too many seated hours—regardless of chair
• Sitting on floor with their feet straight out in front
• Lying on their backs with their heads propped up with pillows, to read or watch TV
• Sleeping on their stomachs.

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