Three in every 10 school-aged children in Brazil report back pain in any given year: 12-month prospective cohort study of prevalence, incidence and prognosis

Objective

To estimate the prevalence, incidence and prognosis of back pain in children and adolescents.

Design

Prospective cohort study.

Methods

We followed children and adolescents between the ages of 8 and 18 years with and without back pain over 12 months (3, 6, and 12 months) from public and private schools. At baseline, parents (or guardians) answered questionnaires including sociodemographic characteristics and perception of sleep quality of their children and adolescents. Children and adolescents answered questionnaires including sociodemographic characteristics, presence of back pain, pain intensity, quality of life, and psychosomatic symptoms. At follow-up children and adolescents answered questions about the presence of back pain.

Results

Six hundred and fifteen children and adolescents were included. One hundred and sixty-three with back pain and 452 without back pain at baseline. The mean age of participants was 11.6 years (SD 2.5), and the majority were female (n=362; 59%). The 1-month prevalence of back pain was 26% (95% confidence interval: 23-30%). The incidence rate of back pain was 35% (31-40%) over 12 months. Of the 163 participants who had back pain at baseline 83% had recovered by 12 months. Of those who recovered within 6 months, 31% had a recurrence of back pain at the 12-month follow-up.

Conclusion

Two to three in every 10 children and adolescents reported back pain in the last month. New cases of back pain were reported by three to four in every 10 children and adolescents for the period of 12 months. Nearly all children recover within 12 months, but recurrence seems to be common.

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