OBJECTIVE: To determine whether there were anthropometric dimensions associated with low back pain (LBP) in a male adolescent population.
DESIGN: Objective measurement of selected anthropometric dimensions by pretested computer assisted goniometer.
SETTING: Temporary laboratory space in three government operated secondary schools in a growth corridor of north suburban Melbourne, Australia.
SUBJECTS: Males attending secondary (high) school, aged between 12 and 19 yr. Of 64 subjects that were symptomatic for idiopathic (mechanical) LBP, 38 reported pain at the time of measurement. These were matched by decimal age to a control group of 38 asymptomatic subjects with no history of LBP, drawn from the same population.
MAIN FINDINGS: The dimension "upper body segment" was significantly greater in the group with idiopathic LBP, as was the dimension "sitting height." Contrary to previous findings from adult subjects, the dimension "standing height," while greater for the LBP group, was not significantly so. The dependent measurements "pelvic height" and "suprapelvic height" were significantly greater, confirming previous findings from adult subjects.
CONCLUSIONS: The presence of these significantly different anthropometric dimensions in an adolescent population suggests that some adult correlates of LBP may have value as predictors of LBP, detectable in adolescence. Longitudinal observation is warranted to determine their validity as such. The early identification of adolescents with these dimensions may allow the development of appropriate screening programs which in turn may lead to the design and introduction of suitable prophylactic interventional programs for persons found to be potentially prone to idiopathic LBP, otherwise known as mechanical LBP, thus reducing the onset of this expensive problem in adulthood.
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