I am the new director of a university student wellness center. I'd like to start a program to decrease the number of students who show up with low back pain. What do you suggest for a starting point?

Many studies have been done around the world to identify the rate of low back pain (LBP) among young adults. These same studies also looked for risk factors and ways to reduce LBP. It seems the following are possible factors:

  • Smoking
  • Carrying heavy bags (females)
  • Trauma--such as car accidents, falling, slipping on ice
  • Rapid growth spurt
  • Psychologic factors
  • Intense sports activity
  • Giving up sports activity
  • Number of hours watching television

    Risk factors that can be changed are called modifiable. These are the areas to focus on. Smoking, lifting, mood, activity level, and time sitting can be monitored and changed.

    Two key features reported in a recent study are giving up sports activity and trauma. Encouraging students to remain active and conducting a safety program to prevent injuries may be the best places to start. Targetting the other modifiable areas can come next.