Study design: Prospective study with 8-year follow-up.
Objective: To describe the evolution of low back pain from adolescence into adulthood.
Summary of background data: High prevalence rates of low back pain among children and adolescents have been demonstrated in several studies, and it has been theorized that low back pain in childhood may have important consequences for future low back pain. It is important to understand the nature of such a link if effective preventive programs are to be established.
Methods: Almost 10,000 Danish twins born between 1972 and 1982 were surveyed by means of postal questionnaires in 1994 and again in 2002. The questionnaires dealt with various aspects of general health, including the prevalence of low back pain, classified according to number of days affected (0, 1-7, 8-30, >30).
Results: Low back pain in adolescence was found to be a significant risk factor for low back pain in adulthood with odds ratios as high as four. We also demonstrated a dose-response association: the more days with low back pain at baseline, the higher the risk of future low back pain. Twenty-six percent of those with low back pain for more than 30 days during the baseline year also had more than 30 days with low back pain during the follow-up year. This was true for only 9% of the rest of the sample.
Conclusions: Our study clearly demonstrates correlations between low back pain in childhood/adolescence and low back pain in adulthood. This should lead to a change in focus from the adult to the young population in relation to research, prevention, and treatment.