The incidence of back pain and headache among Swedish school children
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Musculoskeletal pain is exceedingly common in young adults. With the aim of studying these symptoms in schoolchildren, a questionnaire survey was carried out among children 8, 11, 13 and 17 years old. The prevalence of back pain and headaches in 1,245 schoolchildren was studied. Twenty-nine per cent of the students reported back pain and 48% headache. In all age groups studied, both back pain and headaches were more common among girls than boys. Girls also reported more frequent symptoms than boys. In a longitudinal study 471 schoolchildren were asked a second time 2 years later. Nine per cent reported back pain and 30% headache in both surveys. Five per cent reported both back pain and headache on both occasions. Despite the reported symptoms most of the pupils did not report health problems. However, pupils with reported pain on both occasions may constitute a risk group for future chronic pain. There were statistically significant relationships between social, psychological and emotional factors and reported symptoms. No relationship between physical factors and reported symptoms were noted. The observed relationships are not proof of causal relations but did indicate areas of problems which make interventions targeting pupils at risk an appropriate measure.