Children and young people are different from adults. They are continually developing physically, emotionally and psychologically. Due to the physiology and biomechanics of growth, young people show a unique set of age related symptoms. Whilst many conditions seen in childhood are self-limiting; some more serious pathology can occur. As a specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy team we hope that you find the information on our website helpful, but if the pain your child is experiencing does not improve please seek further medical advice and if its deemed appropriate your GP can refer your child to our physiotherapy service.

Non-Specific Causes Of Neck Pain In Children

Like back pain, neck pain in children is not common, especially children under 6 years. While there are certainly serious causes of neck pain, the vast majority of children with neck pain have symptoms that result from muscle or ligament injury, without any structural abnormality.

Please seek medical advice from your GP or physiotherapist if your child has any of the below symptoms, as they can be a warning sign that there may be a more serious problem:

  • Night pain (especially pain that awakens your child from sleep)
  • Constant symptoms of pain
  • Symptoms of generalized illness (fever, chills, malaise, weight loss)
  • Symptoms persisting beyond several weeks
  • Symptoms in very young children
  • Headaches &/or visual disturbances

These warning signs don’t necessarily mean there is a more serious problem, however, they are a good screening test to determine if more evaluation should be pursued. For example, muscular neck pain can persist for months, however, if the symptoms have been going on for a couple of weeks, it’s best to ensure the diagnosis is clear and seek advice from either your doctor or physiotherapist.


Non- specific Neck Pain in Children

When a more serious cause of neck pain in your child has been eliminated by a medical professional, other contributing factors need to be considered. Non-specific neck pain in children may be caused by any combination of any of the below factors.

Causes of Neck Pain in Children

Encourage regular movement and changes of posture and positioning.

School bags that are too heavy or carried poorly are often a cause of neck pain in children. Make sure they are not too heavy and the weight is equally distributed (for example, by carrying the backpack on two shoulders rather than one). If a locker is available, encourage your child to use it.

Homework should be done at a desk or table that has a chair that can be adjusted in height to suit the child.

When relaxing watching TV or playing on consoles a good supportive chair placed directly in front of the screen (rather than having to turn your head to the side) will help improve posture. Encourage your child to take regular breaks and move regularly.

There are a number of reasons obesity contributes to neck pain in both children and adults. If your child is carrying extra weight it can cause changes in their posture that increases stress in the neck region. It is also an indication that your child does not have the correct balance between exercise levels and the number of calories they are consuming. Inactivity, obesity and neck pain are often interrelated.

Keeping your child happy and stress-free is often easier said than done, but mental health difficulties are known to be associated with neck pain. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health it is important to speak to a GP.


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