Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Back and Neck Pain in Children

Diagram of child's spine showing cervical, thoratic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx

How does the spine work?

The spine is one of the strongest parts of the body. It is made up of lots of bones, called vertebrae, stacked on top of each other. This gives our spine the flexibility to move. ​

​The vertebrae are held together by strong muscles and ligaments, providing our spine with lots of stability. Small discs sit between each vertebrae, acting as shock absorbers. ​

The spine also forms a protective tunnel for the spinal cord, system of nerves which carry important messages between the brain and the rest of our body.

In most cases, back and neck pain starts to improve within a few days or weeks. However, you should seek medical advice if your child’s pain is not improving with the self help advice below.

You should contact your GP for urgent review if your child has back or neck pain and also has any of the following symptoms:

  • Regularly wakes in the middle of the night due to their pain
  • Has pain or stiffness that is worse for an hour or more on waking in the morning
  • Is generally unwell or has a fever
  • Has unexplained weight loss
  • New headaches, nausea or vomiting
  • The curves of your child’s spine look different

In very rare cases, spinal problems require immediate medical attention. If your child has any of the symptoms below, you should urgently call 111 or your GP who will triage if your child needs urgent care:​

  • Loss of feeling or pins and needles between the inner thighs or genitals​
  • Altered sensation and/or pain consistently in both legs at the same time​
  • Numbness in or around their back passage or buttocks​
  • Changes to bladder or bowel function​
  • Child holds head to one side​
  • Sudden onset of pain following trauma or sporting activity.​

For further advice and guidance see click here

Or call Dolphin Physiotherapy Outpatients on 029 218 47577

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital of Wales
Heath Park
CF14 4XW

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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