Risk Factors for Low Back Pain in Childhood and Adolescence: A Systematic Review

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To identify factors associated with low back pain (LBP) in children and adolescents.

Materials and Methods:

A systematic review was conducted (Prospero CRD42016038186). Observational studies analyzing LBP risk factors among participants aged between 9 and 16 were searched for in 13 electronic databases and 8 specialized journals until March 31, 2016, with no language restrictions. In addition, references in the identified studies were manually tracked. All identified studies that included ≥50 participants aged 9 to 16, were reviewed. Their methodological quality was assessed by 2 reviewers separately, using validated tools, which scored, from worst to best, 0 to 100 for cross-sectional and 0 to 12 for cohort studies. A sensitivity analysis only included studies that had adjusted for confounders, had ≥500 participants, and had a methodological score of ≥50%.


A total of 5142 citations were screened and 61 studies, including 137,877 participants from 5 continents, were reviewed. Their mean (range) methodological scores were 74.56 (50 to 100) for cross-sectional studies and 7.36 (5 to 9) for cohort studies. The studies had assessed 35 demographic, clinical, biological, family, psychological, ergonomic, and lifestyle risk factors. The mean (range) prevalence of LBP ranged between 15.25% (3.20 to 57.00) for point prevalence and 38.98% (11.60 to 85.56) for lifetime prevalence. Results on the association between LBP and risk factors were inconsistent. In the sensitivity analysis, “older age” and “participation in competitive sports” showed a consistent association with LBP.


Future studies should focus on muscle characteristics, the relationship between body and backpack weights, duration of carrying the backpack, characteristics of sport practice, and which are the factors associated with specifically chronic pain.

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