Study design: A cross-sectional survey of 806 pupils in Odense, Denmark was performed. This survey included children and adolescents ages 8 to 10 and 14 to 16 years obtained through two-stage cluster sampling from schools stratified according to school type, location, and socioeconomic character of the uptake area.
Objectives: To establish the 1-month prevalence of neck, middle back, and low back pain and the consequences this disorder may have in relation to age and gender.
Summary of background data: The differences in definitions of back pain and the variety of age groups included in previous studies make it difficult to draw clear conclusions about the onset of pain for various spinal regions in the young.
Methods: Information on back pain within the preceding month, obtained through a standardized interview of 481 children and 325 adolescents, was categorized according to area of pain, age, and gender. The consequences of back pain also were studied.
Results: The 1-month prevalence of back pain was 39%. Thoracic pain is most common in childhood, whereas thoracic pain and lumbar pain are equally common in adolescence. Neck pain and pain in more than one area of the spine are rare in both age groups. No gender differences were found. Of those who had back pain, 38% also reported some type of consequence, usually either visits to a medical physician or diminished physical activities.
Conclusions: For clinical and research purposes, neck pain, middle back pain, and low back pain in childhood should be regarded as three specific entities. In future research the data for different age groups should be reported separately.