Do schoolbags cause back pain in children and adolescents?
Schoolbag weight is commonly thought to be a significant factor for back pain complaints in children and adolescents, but there is little scientific evidence to back these claims up.
In fact, after analysing the available evidence, the authors of this review found that no factors associated with schoolbag use, including weight, design, and carriage method, were associated with increased risk of back pain in children and adolescents!
This review included 69 longitudinal and cross-sectional studies, with a total of 72,627 children and adolescents. The analysed outcomes included the number of back pain episodes, number of care-seeking episodes and school absence due to back pain.
Risk of study bias was assessed using a modified version of the Quality in Prognosis Studies (QUIPS) tool. The analysed studies had a moderate to high risk of bias, and pooling was not possible due to study heterogeneity in terms of exposure variables, measurement instruments and data collection methods.
However, the volume of research and the lack of any type of association between schoolbag use and back pain suggest that resources dedicated to the prevention of back pain in children and adolescents are better spent elsewhere.
These findings have important implications in terms of education regarding backpack recommendations and advising parents based on accurate scientific evidence, free from unsubstantiated claims and financial interests.
> From: Yamato et al., Br J Sports Med 52 (2018) 1241-1245 (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. Click here for the online summary.