Spinal Pain in Adolescents
Tuesday, March 03, 2015 06:33 AM

It is now widely acknowledged that neck pain (NP), mid back pain (MBP), and low back pain (LBP) (spinal pain) start early in life and that the lifetime prevalence increases rapidly during adolescence to reach adult levels at the age of 18. In adults, LBP is now the leading cause of years lived with disability on a global level and the societal burden due to disability pensions and treatment costs for this disorder are high and increasing.

Authors conclude that spinal pain is common at the age of 11-15 years, but some have more pain than others. The pain is likely to progress, i.e., to more locations, higher frequency, and higher pain intensity over a two-year period.

The lifetime prevalence of spinal pain was 86% and 89% at baseline and follow-up, respectively. A group of 13.6% at baseline and 19.5% at follow-up reported that they had pain frequently. The frequency of pain was strongly associated with the intensity of pain, i.e., the majority of the participants reported their pain as relatively infrequent and of low intensity, whereas the participants with frequent pain also experienced pain of higher intensity. The two-year incidence of spinal pain varied between 40% and 60% across the physical locations. Progression of pain from one to more locations and from infrequent to more frequent was common over the two-year period.

The severity and course of spinal pain is poorly understood in adolescents. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and two-year incidence, as well as the course, frequency, and intensity of pain in the neck, mid back, and low back (spinal pain).  After a school-based prospective cohort study in Southern Denmark data were collected in 2010 and again two years later, using an e-survey completed during school time. This study reports higher prevalence and incidence of spinal pain than previous studies.

Pain in the spine affected almost nine out of ten 11-15-year olds and among those who did not report spinal pain at age 11–13, around half had experienced pain two years later. For the majority, the pain appears to be relatively mild, i.e., mostly reported as “once or twice” and of low intensity. However, 14-20% reported more frequent pain which was also of higher intensity. In addition, localised spine pain in early adolescence appears to spread to involve other areas of the spine over time.

Source:  http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2474/15/187