Carrying a heavy backpack can be a source of 'chronic, low-level trauma,'and can cause chronic shoulder, neck and back pain in children.

An interesting article appeared on the March 1, 2006 health website, that came from the CNN partner The story is of a Chiropractor, Dr. William Morgan who is the first chiropractor to receive hospital privileges at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland.

The story starts off by saying, "When a Supreme Court justice is nursing an aching back or a senator has a crick in the neck, Dr. William Morgan is the man they may call for help." Dr. Morgan is not new to the military. His history noted that after high school, he joined the Navy where he received training as a hospital corpsman, He was assigned to a Marine Corps reconnaissance unit and a Navy special warfare unit.

After his time in the Navy, Morgan did not know what career to follow. That is where fate seemed to step in. The story notes that he found a career after he injured his back. "For months I tried traditional treatments and had no relief," he said. "Finally, when I could barely walk, I went to a chiropractor. I was 90 percent better in just a week."

His experience led him to attend chiropractic school and he received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. After school he started his chiropractic career with a three-month missionary team in western Africa.  He then practiced for 13 years in California when he heard that the National Naval Medical Center was looking for a chiropractor. He commented, "From my time in the Navy I knew that Bethesda was a world-class medical center and that working there would be something very special."

With his history in the military, and his desire to serve at Bethesda, Dr. Morgan packed up his family and moved to Maryland, where he became a contract employee of the U.S. Navy. Since then he has enjoyed his time of being the chiropractor to many government officials. Dr. Morgan concluded the article by saying, "I have the best job in the hospital and I get immediate gratification for what I do. When people come to me they are at the end of the line. They have tried everything and nothing worked. So, when I try something and it works, I am gratified."

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution September 28th 1999 issue, comes an article of concern about children carrying heavy backpacks. The article links these packs to an increase in musculoskelital pains in children. The problem according to the article is that the weight of these packs upsets the balance in the spine, which can cause spinal and muscular problems.

The American Chiropractic Association suggests that children not carry packs weighing more that 10 or 15% of the child's body weight. The International Chiropractors Association (ICA) also states that improper lifting and carrying by your child can also contribute to spinal stress. The solutions suggested by the Journal-Constitution article suggest lightening the pack as well as making sure the load carried is balanced. The ICA also suggests regular chiropractic checkups for your child to ensure proper spinal and nervous system function.

The August 04, 2005 Business Wire ran story about backpack safety and chiropractic.

Dr. Kassie Donoghue, president of the California Chiropractic Association (CCA) states, "As the mother of an elementary school aged child, I know the pressure that comes from kids who want a certain cartoon character or color. As a doctor, I want to do what's most important for my child's long term health." She continued, "Before going out to buy a backpack, it's helpful to talk to your kids about the type of backpack you want to buy. By following a few simple guidelines, you can help your child choose a backpack they like and avoid serious back problems."

When choosing a backpack for your child the CCA  made some simple suggestions to look for. They include:

  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Padded back
  • Lumbar support
  • Waist belt
  • Multiple compartments
  • Correct size

"This is an important issue for doctors of chiropractic because we focus on wellness and preventative care," said Dr. Donoghue. "Our job is to help prevent health problems and that's why doctors of chiropractic are so concerned about children carrying backpacks that don't fit well or that are too heavy."

Dr. John Maltby, President of the International Chiropractors Association added, "Nothing is more important than the health and proper function of a child's nervous system. The spine houses a major part of the nervous system, the spinal cord. A healthy spine free of subluxations is essential for nervous system function.  Backpacks when carried improperly, or overloaded can be a major form of stress on a young developing spine, create subluxations, and can have serious effects on nerve system function and general health."