Back Pain Information for Kids

Basketball and My Close Call

My name is Angela Capelli. I am 9 years old and I go to Ingalton Elementary School. Although I really like art class and geography, recess is the most fun. My friends and I race out the side door at the sound of the bell to play games. Our favorite game is basketball - that is, when we can get the ball before the boys do!

I hurt my back on a Wednesday. It was really no different than any other day, except it had gotten very cold outside by afternoon recess. Dummy me; I had forgotten to bring my sweat pants to school. All I could think about was my new pleated blue skirt!

At the cost of missing out on a game of basketball, I just dashed outside with everyone else toward the hoops. I've always been a good runner and my friends depend on me saving the basketball court. It was really cold and everyone else seemed to be lagging along. "Hurry up!"

We weren't very far into our game when I reached upward to catch the ball and felt something in my back pull. "Ouch!" I yelled as the ball dropped from my reach. Cathy and Marta, my two best friends, ran over to see what was wrong. I tried to pretend that everything was okay. My mom and I had plans to go to the art store after school and I sure didn't want to miss that!

Later that afternoon in class, I noticed getting up from my desk really hurt. Sharp pain below my waist traveled into my butt. What was wrong? I'd never felt like this before. Eventually Mrs. Armstrong noticed me squirming at my desk. I knew it - she was going to send me to the school nurse. Shoot!

Well, by the time I got to the nurse's office the pain was pretty constant, but bearable. Maybe I should have come here sooner. Oh well, I'm here now. "Well Angela, what seems to be the problem?" Miss Warman asked. So I tell her my tale of woe. She explains these types of back injuries are very common and gives me an ice pack wrapped in a towel and helps position it onto my low back. While we are talking, she calls my mom and suggests a quick trip to the doctor ... just in case. Well, there goes my trip to the art store.

Sometimes when stuff like this happens my mom gets hyper, but whatever Nurse Warman told her must have calmed her down. Thank goodness. Mom tells me that my regular doctor can't see me, but his associate can. Fortunately the trip in the car was short because the bumpy road made sitting a little uncomfortable. I wonder if I broke my back? Um, guess not, Mom is too calm.

Dr. Finch is a woman! I've never had a woman doctor before. "So Angela, how did you hurt your back?" I explain how well our game of basketball was going until I missed the catch and felt the pain pull in my back. Through the gown she gently touched different parts of my back asking if this or that hurt.

When we located the exact area, which was just below my waist where my butt starts she asked if my legs felt funny - like numbness or weak. "No", I said. Dr. Finch said that was good. Then she looked at my back and felt the entire spine from my neck all the way down. Next, she watched as she told me stand up, walk, bend forward, backward, and from side to side. "Angela, you seem to have a little difficulty bending there, does that hurt when you move?" Well, it sure did, and I let her know. Back sitting on the examining table, Dr. Finch tapped by kneecaps and watched my legs jerk forward. She even measured my legs!

"Well Angela, I don't think this is serious. You have strained your back, which means when you quickly reached upward you pulled a muscle. This type of back injury is very common. I see people just about everyday with a backache." I looked over at my mom who seemed to be just taking this all in - with a familiar look on her face.

Well, when mom and I got home, I changed into my warm flannel PJ's and crawled into bed. The doctor said for the first 24 hours to use an ice pack wrapped in a towel every 3 or 4 hours for 20 minutes at a time. Dr. Finch said this would help stop swelling and inflammation. Mom gave me some Tylenol for the pain, which helped a lot.

The next day I felt sore and stiff. Mom decided I should stay home that day, Thursday. Fortunately I didn't have to stay in bed. Later that afternoon, Mom got out the heating pad with the bright red cover. The heat felt good and was relaxing. Dr. Finch had given me some special exercises to gently stretch the pulled muscle, which I tried after the heating pad treatment.

Dr. Finch said the stretching was a therapeutic type of exercise. Exercise would help the blood to move in and around the pulled muscle and help it heal faster. I noticed the stretching helped to keep me from feeling so stiff. Although I still took Tylenol for another day or two, I was feeling pretty good by Monday.

Dr. Finch called me Monday after school. I've never had a doctor call me before! She wanted to find out how I was doing and to give me a few "tips" so I don't get hurt again. Why do adults call advice tips? They have a language all their own for sure! Anyway, Dr. Finch said to get my body warm before running and jumping like I do when playing basketball. She told me warm muscles are more stretchy and less apt to sprain or pull. Walking at a quickened pace to the basketball court is a good way to begin to warm up. Of course, a pair of sweatpants helps too!

This is fictional story.
Updated on: 12/10/09