Arch Dis Child 90:312-316 doi:10.1136/adc.2004.056812
  • Acute paediatrics

Epidemiology of low back pain in children and adolescents

  1. G T Jones,
  2. G J Macfarlane
  1. ARC Epidemiology Unit and The Unit of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Division of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr G T Jones
    ARC Epidemiology Unit, Division of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK;
  • Accepted 7 October 2004


It has been estimated that over 80% of the population will report low back pain (LBP) at some point in life,1 and each year 7% of the adult population consult their GP with symptoms.2 Prevalence increases with age, reaching a peak during the sixth decade of life.3 Until recently little was known about LBP at young ages. Clinically it was perceived to be uncommon—with few children consulting because of LBP in primary care. Large prospective epidemiological studies have shown that, in those free of LBP at baseline, the best predictor of future onset is a previous history of LBP.4 Therefore, to understand the epidemiology of LBP, and what predisposes someone to a trajectory of LBP in adult life, it is important to examine the condition at young ages, to determine factors responsible for onset of initial episodes, and to examine whether LBP in childhood is related to symptoms in adulthood.


  • Gareth T Jones is funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC), Chesterfield, UK

  • Competing interests: none declared