Background: Back pain is a global problem in terms of disability and financially, with a large burden both to the individual and to society. Back pain was previously believed to be uncommon in children. However, there is a growing body of evidence that this is not the case.
Objective: Part I of this scoping review studied risk factors of incident and episodic back pain. In this part II we aimed to identify all risk factors and triggers with unclear or mixed type back pain in young people and to identify any gaps in the literature.
Methods: A scoping review design was selected to summarise the evidence, as there are many studies on “risk factors” for back pain. The scoping review followed the PRISMSA-ScR guidelines. We considered all studies that tested potential risk factors and triggers for thoracic and/or lumbar spine pain, in children, adolescents, and young adults (≤ 24 years). PubMed and Cochrane databases were searched from inception to September 2018, to identify relevant English language articles. The results regarding potential risk factors were separated into temporal precursors and bidirectional risk factors and the studies were classified by study design.
Results: Our comprehensive search strategy identified 7356 articles, of which 83 articles were considered eligible for this review (part II). There were 53 cross-sectional studies and 30 cohort studies. Potential risk factors for back pain were: female sex, older age, later pubertal status, positive family history of back pain, increased growth, and a history of back pain, most of which are temporal precursor variables. There was limited research for the illness factors, spinal posture, and muscle endurance in the development of back pain.
Conclusion: Many of the included studies approached risk factors in similar ways and found factors that were associated with back pain but were not obvious risk factors as causality was uncertain. Future research should be more rigorous and innovative in the way that risk factors are considered. This could be through statistical approaches including cumulative exposures, or longitudinal approaches including multi-trajectory methods. Additionally, data on proposed risk factors should be collected before the onset of back pain.
Author keywords: Risk factors — Back pain — Children — Adolescent — Young adult — Scoping review
Author affiliations: AMB, JJH, CL-Y, BFW: College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia; JJH: Faculty of Kinesiology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; CL-Y: Institute for Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
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