Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Renee Mabey


Low Back Pain -- etiology


Many people suffer from low back pain. The lifetime incidence of low back pain has been widely studied in the general population. Previous research has found risk factors that have been correlated with an increase in low back pain. Individuals with low back pain seek different sources of treatment; outcomes of treatments vary. This survey targeted younger adults, specifically college students of ages 18 to 26. The results of this survey attempt to answer these three research questions: 1) What is the lifetime incidence of LBP in young adults ages 18 to 26? 2) In college students, is there a significant relationship between known risk factors and LBP? 3) In those who experience LBP, how many receive treatment and by which disciplines?

Surveys were administered to college students enrolled in general education classes at the University of North Dakota. Each student was asked to complete the four-page survey that contained a variety of questions in regard to LBP. A total of 406 surveys were returned. Data from all students ages 18 to 26 were compiled for the results.

The lifetime incidence of LBP in these students was found to be 77.5%. Unhappiness/depression was the only risk factor found to be significantly correlated with LBP. Treatment for LBP was sought by 34.9% of those with LBP.

Chiropractors were the primary choice of treatment for LBP (69.4%) in these young adults. Only 25.9% sought treatment from a physical therapist.

This high lifetime incidence of LBP in young adults brings to attention a neglected sector of the population. This study alerts health professionals to an underserved population that could be targeted with wellness and prevention strategies to possibly prevent chronic LBP as one ages.