Low back pain is the most common musculoskeletal complaint. Many clinicians attempt to identify the source of a patient’s low back pain to improve diagnostic accuracy and inform management strategies. The purpose of this article is to review the evidence-based orthopedic physical exam for mechanical low back pain. The main categories of low back pain discussed in this review will be: joint dysfunction, discogenic pain, and radiculopathy. This article will also provide an introduction to evidence-based practice and will focus on using likelihood ratios to maximize diagnostic accuracy for the various types of low back pain. It is suggested that clinicians utilize evidence-based diagnostic tools in conjunction with clinical expertise and patient preferences to deliver optimal patient care.
Author keywords: Low Back Pain, Mechanical; Sacroiliitis; Radiculitis; Lumbar Disc Disease; Nerve Root Compression; Degeneration, IntervertebralDisk; Evidence Based Practice
Author affiliations: CBR: Assistant Professor, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Life Science & Foundations Dept., Davenport, IA; RW: Student, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, IA
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