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Bony protrusion on child's spine. Discomfort when touched. Worried

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1528 Questions
hi doc, when my 3 and half baby sits on my lap, and attemping to wind her. i will feel her back where thr spine seems bony and protruding. as i run my fingers along it, i discover a series of bumps which feel likes verterbar. however, what worries me is a particular vertebrae (mid back) seems more protruding and the gap between it and next bump is bigger. also, as i run my finger ard that area, my baby will wiggle signaling discomfort. will need advice soon as we are worried. thks.
Posted Wed, 12 Sep 2012 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 34 minutes later
Thanks for posting your query.
I think I have answered your query prior to this however in case there is any misunderstanding or any particular reason for the repeat query kindly let me know .
In infants the vertebral column in still developing and can be felt as small bumps throughout the central axis of the back . Out of which few vertebrae are more prominent like that between the neck and start of back and in the region between chest and lower back . These are usually hard , bony to feel and the skin overlying is absolutely normal .
In contrast if there is any spinal deformity , following may be observed.
1. A dimple in the skin overlying the spine.
2. A tuft of hair at the end of the spine.
3. A soft enlarging protrusion in the spinal region unlike the small hard vertebrae like feeling.
4. A gap or wide defect in the width of the spine which may show visible indentation
5. Any discrepancy in the development of the two halves of the shoulder or back muscles or limbs.
6. Any other associated anomaly of genital region or ribs or defect in palate etc
7. Any delayed milestones or neurological abnormality like weakness of limbs etc.

Most probably your child doesnot have any of the above features and what you seem to feel is the normal vertebral protruberance .
However if in doubt it's best to get your child examined by your doctor during the routine visit for vaccination or well baby check ups.
Also if you have had a ultrasound during your pregnancy ( anomaly scan during 5 th month or so) it usually determines any spinal defect or abnormality.
Assuming you have a normal antenatal ultrasound of the fetus there is mostly no spinal problem in your baby.
Hope I have answered your query.
I'll be available for any follow up queries.
Kindly accept my answer if you have no further queries.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Bony protrusion on child's spine. Discomfort when touched. Worried 1 hour later
hi doc, thaks fr ur reply. yeah got ur pous reply. just still worried. as mentioned, is it normal fr one verterbae or bump be further away. wat i mean is if i run my finger alone her spine. i can feel the veterbae one by one. once i reach one particular one on the mid back(she s still siting), its distance between itself n next one is wider. thks
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 26 minutes later
Thanks for the follow up.
Yes , it's normal to find a difference in the gaps between the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae . The vertebra in a child's upper back are thoracic vertebrae and are smaller and closely placed , where they end ( mid back ) the larger lumbar vertebrae start which are not so close as the thoracic vertebrae ( but are in a continuum) . The junction where the thoracic vertabral column ends and lumbar vertebra starts is the point which most closely fits your description.
So it's nothing to worry and if you want reassurance a simple X-ray of the region can confirm that her spine(vertebral column ) is normal . In fact I don't think that needed too if the baby is asymptomatic . It's most probably a normal finding which can be easily confirmed by any pediatrician during the child's examination ( during her routine health check up or vaccination visits .

So please do not worry at all and do tell me if you have any more doubts .
Hope I have answered your query.
Kindly accept my answer if you have no further queries .
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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