Bulging packs can be a pain in the back

A backpack bulging with books and school supplies may signal a student aiming to make the honor roll, but doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center are more concerned that it can lead to back strain and even nerve damage.

A condition called rucksack paralysis is caused by the strain on shoulders and arms. Symptoms include pain and tingling in the hands and arms. The problem could become permanent if kids continue to sport packs that are too heavy.

“If the child is straining or slouching, that is a sign the pack is too heavy,” says UT Southwestern orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Gill, director of the medical center’s Orthopaedic Surgery Spine Program. “You can often lighten the load by ensuring that kids don't carry anything in their packs that isn't necessary.”

In addition, Dr. Gill recommends avoiding slinging a backpack over just one shoulder.

“Use a pack with a waistband and carry it with both straps to distribute the load,” says Dr. Gill. “Or you may want to consider a rolling backpack or luggage cart.”

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/pediatrics to learn more about clinical services in pediatrics at UT Southwestern. To learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in orthopaedics, including surgery, visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/orthopaedics.

Sept. 15 is National School Backpack Awareness Day.

Media Contact: Russell Rian