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Back pain and school bag weight – a study on Indian children and review of literature

Oka, Gauri A.a; Ranade, Ashish S.b; Kulkarni, Aditi A.a

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics B: July 2019 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 397–404
doi: 10.1097/BPB.0000000000000602

Back pain in children is a complex phenomenon, which has been shown to be associated with physical and psychosocial factors. None of the studies on Indian children have investigated the possible association between back pain and psychosocial factors. We decided to determine the prevalence of back pain in students and association with both physical and psychosocial factors. A cross-sectional study was conducted on 163 students from two city schools. Physical factors were evaluated using a structured questionnaire. Strengths and difficulties questionnaire was used to assess psychosocial factors. The studied sample consisted of 49.7% boys and 50.3% girls. Mean school bag weight was 6.1±2.4 kg (range: 2.2–15.6 kg). Mean weight of school bag as a percentage of body weight was 13.5±6.2%. Approximately 76% students carried more than 10% of their body weight. The prevalence of back pain (over last 1 month) was 53.9%. No associations were found between back pain and weight of school bag, weight of school bag as a percentage of body weight and physical activities. Significant associations were found between back pain and number of hours spent watching television [odds ratio (OR): 3.3, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5–7.5; P=0.003], history of injury to the back (OR: 4.8, 95% CI: 1.47–15.8, P=0.003), presence of a family member complaining of back pain (OR: 1.98, 95% CI: 1.25–3.14, P=0.002), conduct (P=0.042) and hyperactivity problems (P=0.045). Thus, there appears a need to consider psychosocial factors along with physical factors when evaluating a young student with back pain.

aDepartment of Research

bBlooming Buds Centre for Pediatric Orthopaedics, Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Center, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence to Gauri A. Oka, MBBS, MPH, Department of Research, Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Center, Pune 411004, Maharashtra, India Tel: +91 982 382 8445; fax: +91 202 542 0104; e-mail:

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