Low Back Pain: It's Not Just for Adults AnymoreEvidence is growing that low back pain is fairly common in kids. This study looked at almost 300 children between the ages of nine and 12 in Belgium. The goal of the study was to find factors that predicted which kids would develop low back pain.
The children were seen once at age nine and again at age 11. They filled out a survey about their health, activities, general well-being, and back pain. They also went through a medical exam that included a check of the spine and lower back. At age nine, about 36 percent of the children reported having low back pain at some point in their lives. At age 11, about 35 percent reported having low back pain.
The researchers found no good predictors of which children would develop low back pain. Only two factors seemed to have any relation to back pain. One factor was that children who walked to school seemed less likely to develop low back pain. The other factor was that children who see themselves as having poor health and who scored themselves lower on general well-being were more likely to report back pain--just like adults.
Notably, about 18 percent of the children who said they had low back pain at age nine reported never having low back pain at age 11. Researchers suggest that could be because low back pain in young children is not a big deal. It could be that it gets better quickly and is easily forgotten. It is also notable that most of the kids who reported having had back pain said they had it yesterday. So even if a third of young children do have low back pain, for most it doesn't seem likely to become a long-term problem.
M. Szpalski, et al. A Two-Year Prospective Longitudinal Study on Low Back Pain in Primary School Children. In European Spine Journal. October 2002. Vol. 11. No. 5. Pp. 459-464.
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