Background Besides low back pain (LBP), also neck pain (NP) and mid back pain (MBP) are common health issues in adolescence. Psychological factors are regarded as main risk factors for spinal pain in adolescence, but recent studies suggest that the importance of physical factors might be underestimated. The purpose of this study was to summarize the results of studies on physical risk factors for adolescent NP and MBP.
Methods Cross-sectional and prospective English studies on NP and MBP in adolescents aged 10 to 18 were searched by a professional librarian in Medline (OvidSP), Premedline (PubMed), EMBASE, Cochrane, CINAHL, PEDro and PsycINFO up to October 2016. Studies that were restricted to self-report via questionnaires were excluded.
Results Eight cross-sectional studies could be included in this review. Some aspects of sagittal alignment in sitting (increased lumbar lordosis) and standing (anteroposition of the head, sway-back posture) were associated with NP. Study comparability was impeded by inconsistent definitions of NP and MBP and a wide variety of outcome measures.
Conclusions This systematic review indicates that prospective studies using a consistent definition of NP and MBP are needed. Such studies might further investigate sagittal alignment in sitting and standing as possible risk factors for NP and MBP in adolescence using a consistent terminology for the outcomes and longitudinal research designs.