Health Watch -- Back to School: School Pains

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about getting ready to go back to school. Plenty of sleep and good nutrition are essential. But you also want to make sure kids aren’t in pain. Those heavy backpacks kids drag back and forth to school can cause nerve damage.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Gill, co-director of the Spine Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the term for the condition is “backpack paralysis” and it happens when strain on the shoulders and arms causes nerve damage. Symptoms include tingling in the hands and arms. If a child has to strain or slouch to carry a backpack, the pack is too heavy. The pack should be carried with straps over both shoulders. A pack that rolls may also help. You should make sure the child isn’t carrying anything unnecessary in the pack — weeks worth of papers, lunch leftovers and old gym socks don’t need to be carried back and forth to school every day.


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August 2007

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