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J Spinal Disord Tech. 2004 Feb;17(1):33-40.

Correlation between backpack weight and way of carrying, sagittal and frontal spinal curvatures, athletic activity, and dorsal and low back pain in schoolchildren and adolescents.

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Spine Unit, Orthopaedic Department, General Hospital "Agios Anddeas," Patras, Greece.


This cross-sectional study was carried out to investigate any correlation between backpack carrying, spinal curvatures, and athletic activities on schoolchildren's dorsal (DP) and low back pain (LBP). Three thousand four hundred forty-one students aged from 9 to 15 years who carried backpacks to school were included in this study and asked for DP and LBP experiences in the school period while carrying the backpack. Nonradiating methods (surface back contour analysis) were used to indirectly measure frontal spinal curve (scoliosis) with the scoliometer and lateral curves (thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis) with the kyphometer. All data analyses were undertaken regarding school year level, age, gender, sports participation, backpack weight, and way of carrying (one versus both shoulder) in relation to magnitude of scoliosis, thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis, and DP and LBP while carrying the backpack. DP increased with increasing backpack weight (P < 0.05). The way (one versus both shoulder) of backpack carrying did not correlate either with DP or with LBP. Girls experienced much more LBP and DP than boys (P < 0.001). There was no difference in the prevalence of LBP and DP between adolescents and children. Students' age, height, and body weight as well as magnitude of kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis did not correlate with either LBP or DP. At the age of 11 years, girls and boys showed the highest prevalence for DP (72% and 38.5%, respectively), while at the age of 14 years, girls reported significantly (P < 0.05) more DP than boys. Girls showed the highest prevalence of LBP (71%) at the age of 11 years, while for the boys, it was at the age of 15 years (21%). Girls showed at the age of 11 years significantly more LBP (P < 0.05) than boys. Sports exposure seemed to increase LBP in girls (P < 0.001). The results of this study suggest a differential DP and LBP prevalence in schoolchildren and adolescents carrying backpacks with regard to gender and age. The peak in pain prevalence was immediately before puberty as well as immediately after its onset. Girls who participated in sports activities seem to experience more often DP and LBP than boys. Short children who carry backpacks as heavy as do tall children at the same age are more prone to LBP.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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