Neck Pain in Children

Children are rambunctious little people who sustain plenty of bumps and bruises during playtime. They are likely to complain of neck pain at some point and it is important to know how to differentiate a strain incurred through normal activity from something more serious.

Causes of Neck Pain in Children

Neck pain in children is usually due to them sleeping awkwardly, playing on the computer for too long, reading in bed, sports, or carrying heavy school bags. However, one type of neck pain found in children, a stiff neck, (if the child cannot bend their neck forward to touch their chin to their chest) can be an early sign of meningitis. Medical attention should be sought immediately if this is the case, particularly as the child is likely to also have a fever. Contact the emergency services if the child is experiencing numbness or tingling in the upper back or arms and if the pain continues to be severe two hours after taking pain medication. Accidents such as falling off a trampoline or driving collisions can cause spinal injuries in children and the child should not be moved until a neck brace of spinal board is put in place by an emergency physician.

Treatments for Children with Neck Pain

If a child’s neck pain persists for more than one or two weeks then it is possible that it is not a simple strain; medical attention should also be sought in these cases. Usually pain-relief medications, including alternative remedies that work as antispasmodics, heat and ice packs (hot water bottles are good for this, as are warmed scarves or towels), changes in sleeping position, and gentle exercises can be helpful in alleviating their pain. Ensuring that they are carrying school bags correctly can help; make sure straps are not too loose and try to get a bag with a chest strap so as to alleviate some of the strain on the shoulders.

There are many things that children do that can overtax the muscles and growing bones in the neck. It is important to identify what might be causing the problem so as to avoid that activity or change the child’s habit. If they repeatedly carry heavy objects with one hand rather than both hands, play a lot of rough contact sports, sit awkwardly at a computer or desk, or even do head stands often then this can lead to repeated bouts of neck pain.

Other Causes

Children can also suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as it is an autoimmune disease rather than a disease of age, wear and tear. If the child has joint pain, swelling, fever, and fatigue then a trip to the doctor is in order to rule this out as a possible cause of their neck pain. Other possible, but unlikely, causes of neck pain in children include thyroiditis, myelopathy, vertebral damage and the aforementioned meningitis. Viral infections, pharyngitis and laryngitis can also cause inflamed lymph nodes and lead to neck pain in children. If the cause of the strain and pain is in doubt then it is best to seek a medical professional’s advice immediately so as to rule out any serious conditions and obtain good advice over how to proceed with treatment and prevention f future pain.




Last Updated: 9/10/2010