Activity Not Linked to Back Pain in Kids

Back pain sometimes begins in childhood. Recently there has been much concern about the causes of back pain in kids. Many studies find that couch-potato kids are more likely to have back pain. Some studies suggest that kids who do sports too hard are at higher risk for back pain. And all these studies have one major problem: the kids report their own levels of physical activity. How accurate are their reports? And how does that affect
the studies?

These authors designed this study to answer those questions. They looked at back pain in more than 800 kids in Denmark. All the kids answered questions about back pain and their level of physical activity. But the researchers also hooked the kids up to a device called an accelerometer. It measured how much and how fast the kids were moving. The kids wore it for four days.

The results showed no link between activity levels and back pain. There was also no strong link between the activity levels reported by the kids and the activity levels shown by the accelerometer. This is an important finding. It questions the accuracy of any study that involves just asking kids their activity level.

The authors say this is the first study of its kind. No other study done with children used a device to measure their activity levels. This makes the results more reliable.

But the study has its limitations. The accelerometer can't tell what type of activity someone is doing. It is possible that back pain in kids is related to the type of activities they do. The authors also note that studies like this should be done at different times of year. Kids are probably more active during some parts of the year than others.

Niels Wedderkopp, MD, PhD, et al. Back Pain in Children: No Association with
Objectively Measured Level of Physical Activity. In Spine. September 1, 2003. Vol. 28. No. 17. Pp. 2019-2024.

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