Can School Bags Cause Scoliosis?

Rosemary Marchese, Physiotherapist

As a clinician working with patients with scoliosis, it was not uncommon to hear particular questions from parents of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. One of those questions is frequently ‘Can school bags cause scoliosis?’ And if not, what does cause it? You may find you are constantly addressing similar types of questions with your patients. 

While we can diagnose a case as idiopathic if we don’t know the cause, parents often still want to know the impact of school bags on their child’s spine. As a parent myself, I have definitely found that school bags today seem to be much heavier than they were in the past. Electrical devices such as laptops may have something to do with that. However, while as clinicians we may find that these bags are affecting the posture of these children, there is no evidence to prove that school bags are the cause of scoliosis. 

Okay so that’s clarified. What about the next big question. 

If my child has scoliosis, does a heavy school bag make the scoliosis worse? 

Again, we have no evidence to support any suggestion that a heavy bag can make the scoliosis worse. However, that does not mean we can’t use common sense to provide our patients (and parents) with some useful advice. We still have the many years of accumulated knowledge as health professionals of human anatomy and posture to make suggestions as to how to help the child minimise the load on the spine. 


For now, common sense rules!

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