As a profession, we’ve generally assumed that carrying a heavier backpack (> 10% of a child’s bodyweight) may contribute to low back pain in school children. What does the evidence tell us?

While predominantly thought of as a condition affecting adults, low back pain (LBP) among school-aged children is, in fact, higher than previously thought, with a lifetime prevalence of 47% by age 14. Additionally, adolescent LBP is a risk factor for LBP in adulthood. The causes of adolescent LBP are multifactorial and include biological, psychosocial and lifestyle-related variables. One causal factor that warrants investigation is the weight of schoolbags that children carry to school. Indeed, over 80% of schoolchildren reporting LBP attribute their pain to heavy schoolbags.
The goal of this study was to estimate whether carrying a schoolbag heavier than advised (i.e. > 10% of bodyweight) is associated with a higher prevalence of LBP in children between the ages 9 and 16. The authors performed a systematic review of the literature and a meta-analysis of available data, including an individual participant data (IPD) analysis...the results may surprise you!
THIS WEEK'S RESEARCH REVIEW: “Association Between the Weight of Schoolbags & LBP in Schoolchildren”
This paper was published in the European Journal of Pain (2020) and this Review is posted in Recent Reviews, Low Back Pain, Ergonomics, Pediatrics and the 2021 Archive.
Schoolbags lbp