Juvenile Arthritis of the Spine
Juvenile arthritis, or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that can affect the spine. When it does it’s called ankylosing spondylitis, or AS. In juvenile arthritis AS patients, the discs and joints of the spinal column become inflamed and are often quite painful. New bone can even form between vertebrae and joints, fusing portions of the spine together, causing limited motion. Though juvenile arthritis of the spine currently does not have a cure, surgery is not needed in most cases, and most AS patients lead normal, productive lives.
Spinal Injuries in Children
Kids and teens who participate in competitive sports are prone to certain spine injuries. Spondylosis is damage to a joint in the spine and tends to occur in children that regularly hyperextend their backs while bending backwards, as typically seen in gymnastics or cheerleading. Spondylolisthesis is a condition that occurs when one vertebrae slips onto another. Spondylolisthesis is known to worsen through adolescence. Fractured vertebrae and disc injuries are commonly caused by children or teens landing hard on the feet or buttocks, as frequently seen in extreme sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, and BMX biking.
One other problem that has become common in children and teens is back strain and overuse injuries that have resulted from carrying overly heavy backpacks. These loaded packs are placing extraordinary pressure on the developing spine, especially when carried on one shoulder.