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Phys Sportsmed. 2014 Feb;42(1):94-104. doi: 10.3810/psm.2014.02.2052.

Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain in the pediatric population.

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Division of Rheumatology, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.


Back pain in the pediatric population is a common complaint presenting to sports medicine clinics. There is a wide differential that should be considered, including mechanical, infectious, neoplastic, inflammatory, and amplified musculoskeletal pain. The history, pain quality, and examination are key components to help distinguish the etiologies of the pain and direct further evaluation. Laboratory investigations, including blood counts and inflammatory markers, can provide insight into the diagnosis. The HLA-B27 antigen can be helpful if a spondyloarthropathy is suspected. Imaging as clinically indicated typically begins with radiographs, and the use of MRI, CT, or bone scan can provide additional information. Proper diagnosis of back pain is important because prognosis and treatments are significantly different. We review the pertinent evaluation, differential diagnoses, and treatment of low back pain in the pediatric population.

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