Aim: To investigate the annual (2005) prevalence of nonspecific low back pain (LBP), defined as lumbago not attributed to recognizable, known specific pathology, in a population of adolescents.
Methods: We investigated 7542 school teenagers with a structured questionnaire consisting of demographic and anthropometric items, psychosocial factors and life style, presence and intensity of LBP, family history of LBP, and questions about whether the teenager had been referred to a physician for this problem. Univariate (t-test, Mann-Whitney U-test and chi-square test) and multivariate analyses (logistic regression) were performed.
Results: A total of 1180 (20.5%) teenagers reported one or more episodes of LBP, of whom 900 (76.3%) had consulted a health provider. A significantly greater percentage of LBP was found in the students who practised aerobics and swimming compared to the other sports. The search for risk factors in the whole population revealed no associations between LBP and the investigated anthropometrics or lifestyle items, whereas a significant association was found for gender (to be female), positive family history of LBP and absence of sports activity.
Conclusions: Our study shows that nonspecific LBP is a frequent event in teenagers, particularly in females, sedentary children and those with a family history of LBP.