Back pain patients getting younger -

Back pain patients getting younger

Dominique Townsend is in physical therapy. Like so many people, she suffers from back pain.

"On a scale from one to ten it was a fifteen, so my days were strenuous, long, and sometimes it would bring me to tears," she said.

What makes Dominique's case unusual is her age -- she's only 23.

There was a time when the average back pain patient was 50 and older.

Not anymore.

"We're seeing as young as ten, twelve-year-old kids with back pain, which is something we haven't seen up until more recently," said Clay Landreneau, a physical therapist.

He blames it on a lack of exercise.

"Kids nowadays, you know, they play on the computer more, on the video games more, watch TV more. They never develop this core stability that's so important for a healthy back," he explains.

Core stability comes from muscles in the abdomen and lower back necessary to support the spine. Physical therapists use special exercises to strengthen them.

After two months of PT, Dominique's pain went from off the chart to barely noticeable.

"I haven't taken medication in maybe a month and a half, so that's great for me," she added.

As for the plummeting age of back pain patients, Landreneau says just getting kids out and active is a step in the right direction. 

"Exercise is the best way to maintain core muscle strength and ward off back pain, but any activity that requires the use of back muscles is a step in the right direction -- including good posture," he says.

As it turns out, something as simple as telling your children to sit up straight can make all the difference.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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