Amber M Beynon, Jeffrey J Hebert, Darren J Beales, Angela Jacques, Bruce F Walker

April 2021, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 1028 - 1034 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06677-0

First Online: 03 January 2021


To identify low back pain (LBP) trajectories from early adolescence through to early adulthood and to investigate whether sustained levels of elevated subclinical C-reactive protein (CRP) are linked with these LBP trajectories.


We analysed longitudinal data from 1513 participants who were enrolled in the Raine Study cohort. Data on LBP with impact on daily living and CRP were collected at the ages of 14, 17, 20, and 22. We constructed group-based trajectory models to identify discrete trajectories of LBP with impact. We then evaluated how the CRP trajectories and the LBP with impact trajectories evolved jointly over time using a multi-trajectory analysis.


The model identified three LBP trajectories. One subgroup included almost half the participants (46.1%) who had a consistently low probability of LBP. Another subgroup comprising 43.5% of participants had an increasing probability of LBP, while one in ten participants (10.4%) had a decreasing probability of LBP. There were no associations between elevated CRP and LBP trajectory subgroup membership.


Although young people follow distinct trajectories of LBP, CRP trajectories do not appear to be a distinguishing factor of the LBP trajectories. Previously reported associations between CRP and LBP may be explained by comorbidity or other factors. Future studies undertaking trajectory analysis should consider comorbidity clusters.

Level of Evidence I

Diagnostic: individual cross-sectional studies with the consistently applied reference standard and blinding

Read Full Article