News Letter Mahler Family Chiropractic Center – April 2017

dreamstime_xl_18739699Minimize Back Pain at Work: Six Ways

Lower back pain can throw a major wrench into your busy work day. To help minimize back pain at the office, try incorporating a few of these tips into your workday!

  1. Wear supportive footwear when standing. Avoid regularly wearing high-heeled shoes, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and negatively impact back support and posture. When standing for long periods of time, propping a leg up on a foot rest, wearing supportive shoe orthotics, or placing a rubber mat on the floor can improve comfort.
  2. Create ergonomic physical environments and workspaces. Undue strain will be placed on the spine unless the office chair, desk, keyboard, and computer screen, etc., are correctly positioned. Some considerations when creating an ergonomic workspace include choosing the surface height for the desk (standing, sitting, or semi-seated) best for the height of the individual worker and the task to be performed, adjusting the seat of the office chair so that the work surface is “elbow high,” and adjusting the computer screen where the gaze naturally focuses.
  3. Lift heavy objects correctly. Even if you’re young and strong, you can still injure your lower back if you lift a heavy object incorrectly. When lifting, be sure to bend at the hips—not the low back—and push the chest out, pointing forward. In this position, the back muscles will be used most effectively for maintaining good posture, as they are designed to do. The knees will also bend automatically so the muscles of the legs and hips will produce the power for lifting correctly.
  4. Practice good posture. Spending most the day sitting down can cause us to develop poor habits like sitting on the edge of the chair or hunching forward toward the computer screen. These poor posture habits overstretch your spinal ligaments and place stress on back muscles and spinal discs. To help minimize back pain, sit with your shoulders tall and your head level over your spine. Try to keep your back flush against your office chair, and place your feet flat against the floor. If you can’t reach the floor, a footrest is a great option. Avoid clenching your muscles or adopting an unnatural, stiff posture. The structures in the spine are designed for movement and any limitation in motion over a long period creates more pain and a cycle of less motion and more pain.
  5. Apply cold therapy. If your lower back pain flares-up at work, cold therapy may promptly alleviate your symptoms with minimal side effects. The benefits of cold therapy include reducing inflammation, numbing sore tissues, and decreasing tissue damage from injury. There are numerous discreet options for achieving these benefits, including disposable cold packs and a frozen water bottle. Just be sure to avoid direct contact between the cold source and your skin to prevent ice burn and limit the application of cold therapy to 20 minutes at a time.
  6. Speak with your boss. If you find that your pain is interfering with your day-to-day responsibilities, alert your boss of the situation. She or he may be able to provide you with special accommodations, such as an ergonomic chair or adjusted duties that require less sitting throughout the day. All the above advice may not completely solve your back-pain problems at the office, but it may can provide a little relief throughout the day. 

Trusted Information for #BackPain: Spine Health

How #stress triggers pain

Neck and hip jointStress can often be hard to manage and it can be the cause of your neck and back pain or it can magnify your neck or back pain. “Stress-induced neck pain is defined as pain that is either triggered or worsened by psychological or emotional factors.” Spine Health gives Six tips for dealing with stress induced neck pain in there article. 

<img src=”″ /> How to Relieve Neck Pain Caused by Stress

Sleeping and #Sciatica Tips

The symptoms of sciatica are present at the most inconvenient times. Sciatic doesn’t care if you need to sleep or drive to work. It can create a burning in the leg pins and needles in the foot or just pain. Youdreamstime_xl_26305744 are often glad just to fall asleep for a few minutes.

There are several ways that you may find relief from the symptoms and fall asleep and stay asleep.

1: Bend your knees slightly. When your sciatica flairs up often one of the five nerves are being compressed and this may take the pressure off of the nerve by relieving the pressure on the lumbar discs. Try different positions and often a pillow under the knees may help.

2: Sometimes a warm bath before bed may help by promoting the production of endorphins which fight pain. I caution you here if he pains gets worse or returns within an hour the bath is increasing inflammation and ice may work better for you discontinue the warm baths.

3: Consider ditching the box spring. The box spring is often the worst part of your mattress system. You can test this out by putting the mattress on the floor for a week or more and if this improves your sleep invest in a platform bed frame. You will often find this more supportive and I recommend it to most of my patients.


By: Dr. Paul R. Mahler

Mahler Family #Chiropractic Center

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Could Bone Spurs be Causing your #Headache?

#Headaches are a major problem for many patients but they can often be very complex in ther cause and cure. They are often managed with over the counter medications but this is not allwdreamstime_xl_48989184ays the best way to deal with chronic or prolonged headaches. Many of your chronic headaches often have bio-mechanical causes stemming from the musculo-skeletal system and these headaches are often best controlled and treated through simple gentle chiropractic care .

One such headache may be caused by bone spurs in the neck.

Over 50% of patients age of 60 and over have osteophytes also known as bone spurs, somewhere in their bodies. Osteophytes in the spine are more common the older we get and may not be a cause for concern unless they result in pain or neurological symptoms.

Cervical osteophytes or bone spurs that grow on any of the  vertebra in cervical spine, also referred to as the neck. may be found from the 7th cervical vertebra to the base of the skull to the base of the neck (C1 – C7 vertebrae). It is these osteophytes that may be responsible for a patients headaches.

To find out more read the article on spine health, Cervical Osteophytes: bone spurs in the neck.

Chiropractic Techniques Why so Many

Chiropractic adjustment Kingston and Wilkes Barre

#Chiropractic is a large and varied profession. There are at lest 100 different types of chiropractic adjusting techniques used world wide. The typically, chiropractor utilize 8 to 10 different techniques in there practice. It is in this way that chiropractors can approach many different problems.

All chiropractors uses these different approaches to with similar intents in mind. The universal goal of most chiropractic care is to restore or to improve joint function, with the end result of resolving joint inflammation and reducing pain. Some chiropractic techniques use minimal directed force often referred to as spinal manipulation, while others spinal mobilization, a series of gentle force procedures designed to free up the joints so they move on there own.

Diversified technique or the high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust is one of chiropractic more traditional forms of adjusting the spine. Newer approaches typically are variation from an existing technique and as they evolve they are often often named after the Doctor who developed that particular approach.

For more information on the different techniques visit the article, Understanding Spinal Manipulation.

#Conservative Treatment for a #Cervical #Herniated Disc

Conservative Treatment for a Cervical Herniated Disc

Cervical Herniated Disc Treatment Video

When the initial pain from a cervical herniated disc hits, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Nuprin, Motrin) or COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. Celebrex) can help reduce the pain.

The pain caused by a cervical herniated disc is caused by a combination of:

pinching of the nerve root, and;

inflammation associated with the disc material itself.

Therefore, taking anti-inflammatory medications to remove some of the inflammation can reduce this component of the pain while the pressure component (pinching of the nerve root) resolves.

For patients with severe pain from a herniated disc, oral steroids (such as Predisone or a Medrol Dose Pak) may give even better pain relief. However, these medications can only be used for a short period of time (one week).

via Conservative Treatment for a Cervical Herniated Disc.


Chiropractic Treatments for Whiplash

Chiropractic Treatments for #Whiplash


Because each individual case of whiplash is different, it is not possible to generalize about the chiropractic whiplash treatment.

See What Is Whiplash?

The appropriate chiropractic treatment is unique to each whiplash injury and is directed at the primary dysfunctions detected during the chiropractic exam.

However, #chiropractors commonly employ different chiropractic treatments for whiplash, often including:


2:Muscle relaxation and/or stimulation

3:Various #exercises

4:Ergonomic and lifestyle changes.

This article explains when, why and how chiropractors may employ these whiplash treatments for neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain and other related symptoms.

For more read the rest of the article:

Is chiropractic safe, what do the studies show?

© Lisafx | – Chiropractic Medicine Photo

Chiropractic is safe!

This is my experience as a chiropractor in the Kingston and Wilkes-Bare for over 10 years. It is not always pain free and it often takes time but it is very safe and effective. The safety of chiropractic is discuses in a recent articular on the Chironexus website. “Chiropractic care has successfully relieved patients of spinal pain for over a hundred years, and a new study shows that chiropractic is not only effective, it’s safe.” There is a recent study performed in Australia where the effects of a chiropractic adjustment were compared to sham adjustments. and it was found that “The majority of patients did not experience any adverse events, regardless of whether or not they were treated with chiropractic or sham interventions.” This indicates that chiropractic adjustments are as safe as someone just putting there hands on you (a sham adjustment) but the health benefits are fare reaching and beneficial.  This study indicates that chiropractic care is a safe, effective, non-invasive way to relive low back as well as other spinal pain.

Read the full article here:

Information Provided by Dr. Paul Mahler Jr.

Athletes and Heel Pain

How to evaluate and treat heel and foot pain.

Since I have become a chiropractor One of the things I love is treating complicated situations that are not the typical chiropractic case. I also love treating the spine and it is the bread and butter of the chiropractic industry, but some times you just need a change and challenge to keep life interesting.

One of theses areas is the treatment of heel or foot pain, in many cases this may be diagnosed as Planter fasciitis. A study was performed by Daniels and Morrell on plantar fasciitis and they found it “improved after a course of a multimodal treatment approach using chiropractic manipulation and soft tissue therapy in addition to exercise and stretching therapies.”(Daniels CJ, Morrell AP. Chiropractic management of pediatric plantar fasciitis: a case report.J Chiropr Med, 2012 Mar;11(1):58-63)

Many of my patients come in complaining of foot pain and this may also have an affect on there back and neck pain. In my 10 years of practice I have treated many athletes for back, shoulder, wrist, elbow, hip and Knee pain but as well as these complaints 10-15 percent also have heel and foot pain complaints at one time or another.

II have found that in some cases the foot pain may resolver with a few adjustments but in many cases this requires a multi modality approach. This approach often includes chiropractic adjustments of the foot and ankle joints, facial release techniques such as trigger-point, cold laser, and stretching as well as strengthening exercises. As a last resort special shoe inserts night be needed but not until the foot is aligned more normally. At this point

Anatomy of the Heel

The prominence at the posterior end of the foot is the heel and is crested by a projection from the calcaneus or heel bone. Other articulating bones of the ankle are the mortise (tibia and talus). When weight is applied to the foot the forces are distributed along the five toes or metatarsals. The lateral support stretches over the cuboid bone in the front to the heel and the medial support moves over the three cuneiform bones and the navicular to the heel. These bones form the three functional arches of the foot which are the medial longitudinal, lateral longitudinal, transverse arches. It is these arches that distribute compressive forces across an uneven terrain across the foot. Often when patients have foot pain they go to the drug store and buy arch supports but many of these supports only account for the main arch in the foot and as we know see there are three arches that need to be supported as well as the navicular bone and this is why in my office when arch supports are needed we recommend custom made orthodic supports. They are more expensive but worth the cost they many last up to 5 years if treated properly. Orthodics often help with the biomechanics of the foot. The heel is the actual point of contact during the heel-strike portion of the gait cycle. It is also an important point on which weight must be equally balanced from the forefoot and heel. When walking there needs to be a 50/50 weight distribution at the forefoot and hindfoot. Without this 50/50 distribution the gait and the standing positions are unhealthy.

When the foot is healthy the arches are working well together during gait and the heel strikes the ground in a slightly supinated position and during the gait cycle it moves into a slightly pronated position. Stand up and walk a few paces do you notice how it feels. A healthy gait is present in only only in about 10 percent of patients that I see. More often I see patient who are over pronating. This excessive pronation results in flattening of the arches and collapsing of the foot, this causes the heel to strike the ground in an over supinated position altered the heel-strike pattern and creating stress in the heel, but also altered biomechanical patterns of the foot. In the end this can lead to pain in the foot and heel. Excessive supination occurs much less frequently, most statistics suggest less than 5 percent, so its effects on the heel are not as profound.

Common Conditions

First there is the condition of Achilles tendinitis. This is due to excessive pronation of the feet and affects the tendon of the triceps surae. The collapse of the foot creates tension in the Achilles tendon, causing it to bow inward and this bowing is happening every time the foot over pronates creating microtrauma and stress to the Achilles tendon. If the Patient supinates, the bowing of the Achilles tendons is outward and creates similare strain and stress on the bones and soft tissue. Over time the body calcifies these tendons to support the joints that are unstable and spurs can develop on the posterior, superior portion of the calcaneus bone. Tight muscles and trigger-points may also form in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the foot and lower leg. Achilles tendonitis is often debilitating due to the the pain and this continues to alter gait and mobility patterns to the point that it prohibits walking for any amount of time without pain. According to Papa “A combination of conservative rehabilitation strategies may be used by chiropractors to treat midportion Achilles tendinopathy and allow an individual to return to pain-free activities of daily living (ADLs) in a timely manner.” (Papa JA. Conservative management of Achilles tendinopathy: a case report.J Can Chiropr Assoc, 2012 Sep;56(3):216-24.)

Another common condition of the foot and heel is plantar fasciitis. A healthy plantar fascia ligament exhibits elastic properties but over time,the three arches of the foot tend to collapse. Over time this leads to excessive pronation and stresses the plantar fascia chronically. This causes the ligament to stay overstretched and it loose its elasticity and becomes longer due to the plastic deformation. Supination creates a thinner, tighter foot due to the tendency of the foot to roll outward creating a high instep with collapsed transverse and lateral arches in these patients. In either case, we can note biomechanical instability and irritation to the plantar fascia from its origin at the calcaneal tubercle across to the insertion on the metatarsal heads. In these patients symptoms begin as a dull ache in the underside of the heel that is more of an annoyance. Patients can still perform normal activities and sports, but over time the pain becomes more intense and sharp, these patients have to curtail or eventually stop their activities. In the later phases, pain can move off the heel and into the middle of the fascia, or at the insertion on the metatarsal heads.

We have all known some one with a sprained ankle. Ankle sprains range from the very mild kind to the severe, grades 1 through 3. The milder types are suggested when a patient complains of “turning the ankle.” This is like when someone missteps off a curb or a step. The opposite extreme is when ligaments and tendons are torn due to a traumatic injury. Either way, biomechanics, particularly of the calcaneus and talus, are compromised. The most common type an inversion ankle sprain, the calcaneus bone moves medial while the talus tends to move lateral. There is also an eversion sprain, where the talus bone moves medial while the calcaneus tends to move lateral. Recall that the bony anatomy allows inversion ankle sprains to occur much more frequently. In either case, the movement of the bones inhibits normal mobility. Since most people do not see a chiropractor after a sprained ankle, the bones stay out of alignment, leading to a slow rate of healing, chronic degree of tenderness and decreased function, and a tendency to repeatedly sprain the ankle in the future. Thus, it is imperative that chiropractors intervene and break this cycle. A 2004 study suggested “high velocity, low amplitude chiropractic manipulative therapy to the spine, pelvis, and extremities, particularly at the ankle, should be considered when managing young recreational athletes with functional chronic, recurrent, ankle inversion sprains.” (Gillman SF. The impact of chiropractic manipulative therapy on chronic recurrent lateral ankle sprain syndrome in two young athletes. J Chiropr Med, 2004 Autumn;3(4):153-9.)

Heel Spurs are a painful and common problem of the heel. As previously discussed, a heel spur forms at the posterior, superior calcaneus bone courtesy of Achilles tendinitis. The most common place we see a spur is on the underside of the foot at the calcaneal tubercle where the plantar fascia originates. The worse the chronic pull on the bone, the worse the spur. Spurs form when the body tries to stabilize an unstable joint. According to Wolf’s Law the Body will remove calcium from places where it is not needed and deposit it in areas were force and instability requirer it. We can’t take the spur away, of course, but we can help it from getting worse and if the joint stabilizes the body may even re-absorb some of the calcium reducing the size of the spur. Depending on how quickly you seek treatment for one or more of the above ailments, the faster they heal. If a patient is acute enough and there is sharp pain and inflammation, modalities like cold laser, ultrasound, ice, etc., are indicated. You can also provide light, soft-tissue therapy at this stage, making sure you apply the appropriate amount of pressure.

Chiropractic treatment for foot and ankle injuries!

Adjusting the bones of the feet to restore healthy biomechanics is extremely important. Adjusting the calcaneus, talus, navicular and cuboid bones is particularly helpful. If you don’t get in there and move those bones, they will not heal very well and will be prone to future injuries.

Another helpful tool is stabilizing orthotics. These are flexible, have all three arches and are custom molded and help to support the patient’s feet as well as the rest of their body. A 2002 study suggests the effectiveness of applying orthotics and ankle braces during the acute and subacute phases of ankle rehabilitation. (Mattacola CG, Dwyer MK. Rehabilitation of the ankle after acute sprain or chronic instability. J Athl Train, 2002 Dec;37(4):413-429.) The use of orthotics, when necessary, has been a part of chiropractic practice as well as my practice. They help to maintain proper biomechanics and structural integrate as well as helping hold the adjustments longer.

Ankle stretches and stabilization exercises also can be provided, and they are helpful as well as easy. A passive exercise (Doctor performs) would be to have the patient cross the affected ankle over the opposite leg and passively dorsiflex, plantarflex, invert and evert the foot. Another exercise is to have the patient stand on the edge of a step or a door frame and stretch the calf muscles, each repetition should be held for 30 seconds. Stabilization exercises should be performed with elastic tubing. The patient performs the following active movements of the foot and ankle dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, eversion and inversion. Elastic tubing is easy and convenient, and you can change the resistance quickly.

It is common for patients to walk into our office complaining of ankle and foot pain. At our office we take a few moments to listen, look and feel so we can help them in a manner that isn’t complicated or time consuming. Since the ankle is such an important stability structure for the entire body, our patients benefit tremendously from our expertise and care of their ankle and their entire body.

By: Dr. Paul R. Mahler

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Exercise resolutions for 2013


Mahler Family Chiropractic Center Kingston and Wilkes Barre PA.

The health benefits of honey.

honeyWhere is all this honey coming from? Have you ever before sampled actual honey? That was not honey, THIS was honey!

Exactly what are the organic advantages of honey? One tbsp of honey has 64 fats. Many people favour honey as a healthier different to glucose due to its vitamins and minerals that could help in digestion and its anti-oxidant elements. Local honey must come from the bees that live in your neighbourhood, usual a 50 mile radius. This will certainly improve your immune system and guard against seasonal allergic reactions. The local bees use local plant pollen to make their honey and this help in controlling allergies to these plants in much the same way the allergist uses allergy shoots.; you can also purchase plant pollen which is great in smoothies! Normal honey is not subject to any kind of heating or handling; whereas, table sugar is very processed. The heating and processing eliminates all of the normally occurring trace element and crucial enzymes.

Darker honey has much higher antioxidant homes while raw honey has much better healing properties, and buckwheat honey is for sore neck and coughing relievers. Clover honey is the most rich in the United States, while in New Zealand’s manuka plant and includes higher levels of added, non-peroxide medicinal components that other honeys do not called UMF aka Unique Manuka Element.

Are their wellness benefits to local honey? there are some crucial wellness advantages of honey are: 1. Honey is a natural power enhancer, 2. Honey assists stimulating and assisting your immune system and 3. Honey is a natural solution for many ailments. Its normal glucoses play an important role in avoiding fatigue in the course of exercise and stressful times throughout the day. Glucose in honey is soaked up rapidly and offers an urgent energy source, while the fructose in honey is soaked up slowly offering sustained power. According to the guide by Dr Ron Fessenden, experts have located plant flavonoids in honey. These bioflavonoids, aka antioxidants, have highly effective influences in removing free radicals. The antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties could additionally enhance digestive and help you to remain healthy and balanced. Honey aids with sore throats,and helps to suppress coughs. Honey reduces recuperation time from burns and cuts. The viscosity of honey offers a protective obstacle. The hydrogen peroxide it contains is released gradually, wiping out germs in the cut and/or abrasion. You likewise have Propoli, a medicinal marvel from the beehive. Analysis has revealed that it supplies antibacterial, antibiotic, medicinal, as well as antiviral residential properties.

Just what is the ideal means to include honey into my life? Listed here are a few handy pointers for utilizing honey. Next time prior to you choose an exercise, take a spoon of honey with your healthy protein to allow you to opt for the extra mile. If you are feeling fatigued and low in the morning, instead of reaching out for a can of carbonated energy beverage, attempt honey. Spread it on hot salute or switch out the sugar in your coffee or tea with it for a rejuvenating surge of NATURAL power. Add it in to your cake mixtures rather of white sugar it might even improve your baked goods.

Most honey should be acquired locally from your local farmer’s market honey and nothing at all else. We should buy local honey and not the honey at the stores that is imported in from China. Regional honey ought to come from the bees that live in your neighbourhood, that is a 50 mile radius. So now is the time go out and get your local honey.

By: Paul R. Mahler DC

Mahler Family Chiropractic Center

Natures Cold Remedies: Honey

While we’re stuck in the thick of yet another cool and flu season, it’s time to advise parents of two important factors: First, the Food and Drug Administration points out coughing and cool medicines are not appropriate for kids ages 6 and under and may really threaten their health; and 2nd, research suggests honey could be the greatest relief of all for children struggling with cold and flu symptoms especial the cough.

Over the previous years, the Food and Drug Administration has actually considerably investigated over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, several either with dosing instructions for children and grown-ups or for just Kids, depending on the type and label. With little research done involving kids, since it is challenging to encourage mom’s and dads to use their kids as examination subjects, the general protocol was for dosing instructions to be extrapolated from grown-ups to youngsters.

Gradually, the Food and Drug Administration figured this out and ruled that cold and flu medicines were improper for kids under the age of 2, then extended the restriction to kids under age 6. It is important to take note that currently the Food and Drug Administration is looking at a ban on cold and flu medication for kids approximately age 11, if not older.

In the past several years, even the drugs still used for the six plus age group have actually come under attack, with a number of product recalls for quality-control problems that resulted in a number of products used in treating the symptoms of coughs, cold, allergy, and fever to be removed from the shelves of your local pharmacies in 2010.

In recent studies it has been found that we can turn back to nature to help relive the symptoms related with colds and flu’s which also least lessen their time frame of the illness. This would be honey. In a 2007 Pennsylvania State University School of Medication study entailing 105 children ages 2-18 with upper respiratory infections, kids who were offered buckwheat honey, between half a tsp to two tsps before bedtime depending on age, coughed much less and rested much better than children that did not receive any type of honey or who got honey flavoured dextromethorphan, the primary active ingredient in several cough and cool treatments.

Talk with your chiropractor to find out more, and keep in mind that honey is not advised for youngsters in their first year because it could have botulism spores, which can be dangerous to an infants underdeveloped and vulnerable immune systems.

Paul R. Mahler

Mahler Family Chiropractic Center

Backpack Misuse and Overloading

Backpack and chiropractic

Chiropractic: Carrying Backpacks Versus Pulling Them on Trolleys

Bags really are a common site in the present schools. Nearly every child appears to bring a bag of one type or another. And there is sufficient proof to link backpack misuse and overloading will lead to back and neck pain. More students are reporting pain and discomfort associated with their back packs. Recent studies have reported that as much as 64% of children suffer with back pain (Negrini, 1999). These numbers are alarming, but that number doesn’t really matter. What matters is when your son or daughter is one of these. So what are parents to do?

Studies from John Hopkins Children Hospital and numerous other childrenes institutions show that back packs are a primary cause of neck, back, and shoulder pain and are also responsible for poor posture in children. The common student reports a visible analog pain scale amount of 4.3 with some attaining an 8-9, as explained by Northeastern College in June of 2001. The American Academy of Orthopedics found 71% of wellness practitioners feel backpacks are a health-related problem, 58% of these doctors see kids with pain connected to backpacks, and 52% genuinely think this could be a significant problem. In these studies, 55% of pupils carried an overloaded back pack, as explained by Simmons University in February of 2001. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 3,300 cases of children between the ages of 5-14 were seen in the emergency rooms in 1997 for back pack related injuries. An Auburn University study verified that 67% of children experienced muscle tenderness, 51% back pain, 24% numbness and 15% neck pain associated with backpacks. 65% of teenagers’ doctor visits are due to backpack accidents and this was reported on National Public Radio in October of 1998.

Reports from John Hopkins Children Center and a number of other childrens’ institutions show that back packs lead to neck, back, and shoulder pain as well as bad posture in children. The typical student reports a visual analog pain scale level of 4.3 with some achieving an 8-9, as described by Northeastern University in June of 2001. The American Academy of Orthopedics found 71% of health practitioners feel backpacks are a medical problem, 58% of these physicians see children with pain linked to backpacks, and 52% genuinely believe that this can be a serious problem. An overloaded backpack is carried by 55% of students, as described by Simmons College in February of 2001. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 3,300 of school aged children 5-14 were treated in emergency rooms in 1997 for backpack associated injuries. An Auburn University study confirmed that 67% of children experienced muscle tenderness, 51% back pain, 24% numbness and 15% neck pain. 65% of teenagers’ physician visits are due to backpack accidents as reported by National Public Radio in October of 1998.

Here are a few methods to find a suitable backpack and the proper way to make use of it. The acceptable load in a backpack is related to the child’s weight. Do not overload. One of the main 55% of pupils for injuries due to back packs is over loading. and according to  American Chiropractic Association as well as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the following weight limits are recommended.

    • A 60 lbs. child can carry a maximum backpack weight of 5 lbs.
    • 60-75 lbs. can carry 10 lbs.
    • 100 lbs. can carry 15 lbs.
    • 125 lbs. can carry 18 lbs.
    • 150 lbs. can carry 20 lbs.
    • 200 lbs. can carry 25 lbs.
  • Under no circumstances should a backpack weigh over 25 pounds, Carry only what is needed.
  • To transfer the weight to the hips pack heavier items on the bottom.
  • Use all of the compartments. Backpacks with multiple compartments help keep the load stable and keeps it from shifting.
  • Flat items should be kept closer to the back and bulky or pointy items should be packed away from the back..
  •  Always use both shoulder straps. Never carry a back pack on one shoulder.
  • Make sure the shoulder straps are tight and the backpack sits no more no more that 4 inche below the waist line (where the belly button is, not the hips) and just below the shoulders.
  • Use the waist and chest straps.
  • Only carry the backpack when necessary.

Other Options

  • Use handouts instead of textbooks or keep a second set of textbooks at home.
  • If possible use separate backpacks for separate classes or activities and don’t carry all of your after school gear to every class.
  • Use a different style of bag such as a saddle bag design that goes over the head with a bag on both the front and back is a good option.
  • Do not use a shoulder bag because it is all the weight with only half the support.
  • Do not use rolling bags. In a recent study using German primary school children. Researchers wanted to learn if giving the kids rolling luggage, to transport their school books,would reduce spinal pressure. The finding were that just because this works work well for Mom at the airport doesn’t mean that it works well for children. Hauling books across irregular sidewalks, and all the way to school can be a problem. This shows that school children should use bags in the place of trolleys but load the backpacks to the appropriate weight.

It’s well understood that heavy backpacks are taking a heavy toll on our childrens spines. The Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of California,  recently conducted a weight barring (standing) magnetic resonance imaging study and found “Increasing backpack loads significantly compressed lumbar disc heights measured in the midline sagittal plane” and that: “student subjects reported significant increases in back pain, associated with increasing backpack loads from 4, to 8, and finally to 12 kgs of carried weight”.

In a recent study using German primary school children. Researchers wanted to learn if giving the kids rolling luggage, to transport their school books, would reduce spinal pressure. The finding were that just because this works work well for Mom at the airport doesn’t mean that it works well for children. Hauling books across irregular sidewalks, and all the way to school can be a problem. This shows that school children should use bags in the place of trolleys but load the backpacks to the appropriate weight.

It is important that parents and children follow the safety tips for backpack use. This will help children avoid back injuries early in life and produce a better quality of life in their twenties, thirties, and forties.

Reference: Negrini S, Carabalona R and Sibilla P (1999). Back pain as a daily load for school children. The Lancet 354: 1974.

By: Paul R. Mahler Dc Jr.