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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009 Jan;163(1):65-71. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2008.512.

Prevalence of low back pain and its effect on health-related quality of life in adolescents.

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Spine Unit, Hospital Universitari de Traumatologia I Rehabilitació Vall d'Hebron, Passeig Vall d'Hebron 119-129, 08035 Barcelona, Spain.



To assess the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) in adolescents and the clinical features of LBP in 2 European countries and to evaluate the effect of LBP on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) using standardized validated generic and disease-specific instruments.


Cross-sectional study.


Secondary schools of Barcelona, Spain, and Fribourg, Switzerland.


Representative sample of adolescents from the 2 cities. Intervention Selected adolescents completed a questionnaire including a generic HRQOL (KIDSCREEN-52) and 2 LBP-specific instruments.


Results of KIDSCREEN-52, the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire, and the Hanover Functional Ability Questionnaire.


A total of 1470 adolescents (52.6% male) with a mean (SD) age of 15.05 (1.17) years completed the questionnaires (response rate, 85.1%). Low back pain was reported by 587 adolescents (39.8%): isolated LBP in 250 (42.6%), LBP plus other pain in 271(46.2%), LBP plus whole-body pain in 50 (8.5%, and unclassifiable LBP in 16 (2.7%). Five hundred adolescents (34.7%) reported no pain, and 369 (25.6%) reported other pain without LBP. In those with isolated LBP, the percentage of adolescent boys was higher (54.6%; P < .001) and the LBP was mildest. In those with LBP plus whole-body pain, the percentage of adolescent girls was higher (62%; P < .001) and LBP was most severe. All KIDSCREEN scores in the group with LBP plus whole-body pain were significantly lower than in the other groups (effect size, 0.52-1.24). No differences were found between the groups who reported isolated pain, no pain, or other pain with no LBP. On the LBP-specific instruments, adolescents who reported LBP plus other pain had significantly poorer scores (P < .001) compared with those with isolated LBP but better scores (P < .001) than those with LBP plus whole-body pain.


Low back pain in adolescents is a prevalent symptom with overall low associated disability and little effect on health-related quality of life. A subset of adolescents in whom LBP is associated with whole-body pain report significant impairment and deserve more attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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