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Have you seen kids heading back to school with backpacks almost as big as they are? Their packs are stuffed with homework and books and laptops, old lunches and things better left unexamined. These bags can weigh 15 pounds or more, and that’s too much for a 60 pound middle-schooler.

“We see kids with back and neck pain caused by hauling the contents of their school lockers around. The pain can be moderate or it can flare to an unbearable level. That’s pretty tough when you’re facing an important book report,” says Dr. Gary Shapiro, an orthopedic specialist at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute.

And it’s not just kids at risk. Have you weighed your briefcase? Your purse? The car seat? Your own backpack? Carrying heavy totes and packs can lead to problems down the road, such as tension headaches, strained muscles, numbness or tingling in arms and legs, and even scoliosis and osteoarthritis.

Use these tips to reduce your risk of back and neck injury:

  1. Don’t overstuff. A child should not carry more than 10-15% of bodyweight in a backpack. Leave some books in the locker and pick them up as needed.
  • Pack smart. Put the heaviest items on the bottom, and distribute the weight evenly.
  • Use your back. Many kids and adults carry their packs in one hand, or over one shoulder, which creates unbalanced pressure on muscles, tendons, and nerves. Use both straps and carry your backpack centered on your mid-back.

If you have back or neck pain, or if your child reports pain or numbness, help is available now. IBJI provides personalized care, diagnosis, imaging, and advanced non-surgical treatment options all in the same visit, under one roof.

IBJI physician specialists are board certified in orthopedics, sports medicine, pediatrics and pain management. Physical therapy, acupuncture and massage are also available.

You and your kids don’t have to suffer while waiting for an appointment, or be told to come back in a week if it still hurts, call the IBJI location nearest you to schedule an appointment or just walk-in to one of our OrthoAccess immediate orthopedic care clinics.

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