To determine the prevalence of back pain in American children and adolescents, with a focus on anatomic region, duration, severity, and treatment patterns, and to investigate for any predictive variables.
Summary of Background Data.
No study has examined the prevalence of back pain in American children and adolescents in the last 15 years. Because the prevalence of back pain varies greatly by country and year of investigation, previous studies are not generalizable.
A United States epidemiologic cross-sectional survey-based investigation was performed in children and adolescents ages 10 and 18 years old, equally split by age and sex, and representing census-weighted distributions of state of residence, race/ethnicity, and health insurance status. Prevalence of back pain was evaluated and described.
In total, 1236 (33.7%) participants reported experiencing back pain within the last year and 325 (8.9%) reported severe back pain within the last year. Prevalence of back pain increased with age and was significantly more common in females, P < 0.001 for both. Treatment for back pain was sought by 505 (40.9%) of the participants with pain, of which physical therapy was the most common. Invasive procedural treatment (e.g., injections, surgery) were rare and comprised only 61 (1.6%) of study participants. In addition, government insurance and lack of insurance coverage was associated with low treatment seeking behavior compared to private insurance users (P = 0.010 and P = 0.006, respectively).
Despite how commonly it presents, the majority of young patients with back pain do not report procedural treatment such as injections or surgery. However, because many American children and adolescents seek treatment, future research on the etiology, treatment, and prevention of back pain in children and adolescents is essential to reducing a common and financially demanding problem.
Level of Evidence: 4