BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Back pain at a young age is considered to be predictive of chronicity. Several studies have investigated the relationship between the use of a schoolbag and back pain, although some aspects are still unclear.
PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to evaluate back pain due to schoolbag use in terms of (1) prevalence and intensity, (2) differences between male and female pupils, and (3) predisposing factors.
STUDY DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional study.
PATIENT SAMPLE: The sample was composed of 5,318 healthy pupils aged 6 to 19 years (classified according to three age groups: children, younger adolescents, and older adolescents).
OUTCOME MEASURES: Schoolbag-related pain was assessed by means of an ad hoc questionnaire. The intensity of pain was assessed using the Wong scale.
METHODS: Subjects underwent a face-to-face interview using an ad hoc questionnaire. The intensity of pain was assessed using the Wong scale. On the basis of the prevalence and intensity of back pain, we divided our population into two groups: (1) no or mild pain group and (2) moderate or severe pain group. The "schoolbag load" (ratio between schoolbag and pupil weight multiplied by 100) was calculated for each subject.
RESULTS: More than 60% of the subjects reported pain. Although the schoolbag load decreased from children to young and older adolescents, schoolbag-related pain significantly increased (p<.001). Girls reported significantly more frequent and more severe pain than boys. The logistic model confirmed that adolescent girls are the group at greatest risk of suffering from intense pain. The schoolbag load had a weak impact on back pain, whereas the schoolbag carrying time was a strong predictor.
CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent girls have the highest risk of experiencing severe back pain, regardless of schoolbag load. This suggests that other factors (anatomical, physiological, or environmental) might play an important role in pain perception. These aspects should be investigated to plan appropriate preventive and rehabilitative strategies.
- Journal Article