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Neck Pain and Headache in Kids

Neck pain and headaches in kids:
More common than parents think

Preteens may experience headaches and neck pain far more often than their parents would expect. A Swedish study of 131 students ages 10-13 years old compared the spinal health of students with and without pain. A surprising finding was that parents significantly under-reported their child's experience of pain.

The study found a wide discrepancy between what the children and parents reported regarding the child's health. Children rated their experience and frequency of pain on surveys, prior to the assessment. Parents were asked separately to answer the same questions on behalf of their children.

31% of children reported that they "often" had neck pain and/or headaches, compared with 6% of parents. Similarly, 61% of children reported trauma to the head and/or neck region but only 20% of the parents said that their children had experienced such trauma.

Significance of these findings for chiropractors:

  • 40% of students ages 10-13 may some experience neck pain and/or headaches
  • Parents may not be aware of the presence of pain in their children or the history of head trauma
  • Children reported that computer use and long period of reading made pain worse

To address the prevalence of headaches, chiropractors can:

  • Educate adult patients about the high levels of neck pain and headaches among youth
  • Encourage parents to talk with their children about neck pain and/or headaches and its origins
  • Teach families techniques to prevent headaches following computer or reading time

Chiropractors who continue to educate themselves on the latest findings and techniques in pediatric chiropractic will be best equipped to protect the development of children's spines.


Weber Hellstenius S A, Recurrent Neck Pain and Headaches in Preadolescents Associated with Mechanical Dysfunction of the Cervical Spine: A Cross-Sectional Observational Study With 131 Students. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 2009. (32)8:625-634.