Nelson Azevedo, José Carlos Ribeiro, Leandro Machado

September 2023, Volume 32, Issue 9, pp 3280 - 3289 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-023-07751-z

First Online: 08 May 2023


Back pain is a growing problem worldwide, not only in adults but also in children. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to investigate and understand the factors that influence the early onset of back pain. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of back pain in children and adolescents and to identify predisposing risk factors and protective factors.


A cross-sectional study was conducted between October and December 2019 in schools from northern Portugal, evaluating 1463 students aged 9 to 19 years, of both genders. The instruments used were the Spinal Mouse® to assess posture, the Inbody 230® to assess body composition, an online questionnaire to characterize the sample and back pain, and the FITescola® battery test to access physical fitness.


Half of the subjects experienced back pain at least once in their lifetime. The most frequently mentioned were lumbar spine and thoracic spine, mostly with mild or moderate pain intensities. Age, female gender, percent body fat, prolonged smartphone and computer use, hyperkyphosis, and the lateral global spine tilt to the left side are all factors with higher relative risk of back pain. Practicing physical activity or sports regularly and video games have a protective effect.


The prevalence of back pain in children and adolescents is very high: The study enhances the case for protective factors such as physical activity habits or video games while reinforcing risk factors such as percent body fat, prolonged smartphone or computer use, and posture.

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