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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Despite being common early in life and affecting individuals' quality of life to the same degree as neck and low back pain, research into epidemiological aspects of mid-back pain (MBP) has been scarce. The purpose of our systematic review was therefore to describe the incidence and prognosis of MBP in the general population. The PRISMA Statement guided the study process.
DATABASES: A systematic search was conducted in CINAHL, PEDro, PsycINFO and Scopus.
RESULTS: Of 3194 unique records identified, seven were included in our qualitative synthesis. The 3-month and 2-year incidence proportions of MBP in children and adolescents were approximately 4% and 50%, respectively. In adults, the 1-month incidence proportion was less than 1%. The persistence or recurrence of MBP over a 1- to 4-year period was between 13% and 45% in children and adolescents; a change in spinal pain location over time was common. Individuals reporting MBP have an increased risk of future care seeking compared with people without musculoskeletal complaints. No studies assessing adult MBP recovery trajectories or prognostic factors were identified.
CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge about the incidence and prognosis of MBP in the general population is limited. The incidence of MBP in children and adolescents seems to be similar to the incidence of neck and low back pain; in adults, it is lower than that of neck and low back pain. Studies investigating recovery trajectories of MBP in adults and prognostic factors for MBP are lacking. WHAT DOES THIS STUDY ADD?: The incidence of mid-back pain (MBP) in young individuals is similar to that of neck and low back pain, and ≤50% report persistent pain; however, the evidence base is limited. Knowledge about adult trajectories and prognostic factors for MBP is lacking.