A Journal of Public Health report links teen back pain and substance use

ADOLESCENTS with frequent back pain are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and report feelings of anxiety and depression, according to research led by Sydney and Newcastle universities.

A Journal of Public Health report says a study of 6000 Australians aged 14-to-16 found the proportion of those who reported smoking, drinking or missing school rose incrementally with increasing frequency of back pain.

There was a significant difference between the mental health indicators of those who reported no pain compared to those with frequent back pain.

Co-author Dr Chris Williams, of Hunter New England Health, says the study adds to emerging evidence of close links between musculoskeletal pain and elevated risk factors for chronic disease.

“We tend to think about these as problems that occur in adults, but during adolescence there is a steep rise in pain from bones, joints, muscles, and back pain particularly.”