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Lower back pain Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Lower back pain. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist by answering questions that your doctor may ask below:

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  1. When did the lower back pain start?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic.

  2. Did the lower back pain start after any injury or lifting?

    Why: helps to determine cause of back pain e.g. dysfunction of intervertebral disc , back muscle strain, compression fracture of the spine, spondylolisthesis.

  3. Nature of the pain?

    Why: may reveal its likely origin e.g. aching, throbbing pain can indicate inflammation such as spondylitis; deep aching diffuse pain can indicate referred pain such as painful menstruation; superficial steady diffuse pain can indicate local pain such as a muscular strain; boring deep pain can indicate bone disease such as bone tumor or Paget's disease; intense sharp stabbing pain superimposed on a dull ache can indicate sciatica.

  4. Where is the back pain worst and can you point to the area of maximal pain?

    Why: to determine if it is central or peripheral.

  5. Is your back pain worse when you wake in the morning or later in the day??

    Why: Inflammatory pain is worse at night and in early morning; mechanical back pain due to injury is worse at the end of the day and after activity; Continuous pain present day and night is suggestive of infection or bone tumor.

  6. Aggravating and relieving factors?

    Why: inflammatory back pain causes pain at rest , relieved by activity ; mechanical back pain due to injury is exacerbated by activity and relieved by rest ;osteoarthritis causes pain with or after activity and relived with rest; pain aggravated by standing or walking and relieved by sitting suggests spondylolisthesis; back pain due to dysmenorrhoea is worse at start of menstrual period; pain from nerve root compression from a disc protrusion is aggravated by coughing, sneezing and straining.

  7. Past Medical history?

    Why: e.g. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis.

  8. Past cancer history?

    Why: of cancers that may spread to bones e.g. breast, lung , prostate, thyroid, kidney, bladder, adrenal, melanoma and colorectal.

  9. Sexual history?

    Why: can determine risk of Reiter's syndrome.

  10. Risks of Osteoporosis?

    Why: early menopause, cigarette smoking , high caffeine intake , high alcohol intake , low calcium intake , physical inactivity , chronic corticosteroid use, Cushing's disease , hyperthyroidism , chronic renal failure.

  11. Medication?

    Why: e.g. warfarin may cause cauda equine compression due to hemorrhage; corticosteroids can lead to osteoporosis.

  12. Back stiffness?

    Why: if severe, prolonged and worse in the morning indicates inflammation e.g. Rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis; Osteoarthritis causes stiffness at rest.

  13. Pain, swelling or stiffness in any other joints in the body?
  14. Leg pain?

    Why: may indicate compression of spinal cord or nerve roots from lumbar spine spondylosis (degeneration), spinal stenosis, tumor of the cauda equina (distal tip of the spinal cord and its nerves), spondylolisthesis (forward movement of one lumbar vertebrae on the one below it), herniated disk or pelvic tumor.

  15. Leg paresthesia?

    Why: may indicate compression of spinal cord or nerve roots from a disc prolapse, narrowed intervertebral foramina or bone tumor.

  16. Bladder symptoms?

    Why: should consider the possibility of a spinal cord tumor, cauda equine tumor or kidney disease.

  17. Fever?

    Why: may occur in acute vertebral osteomyelitis, spinal cord infection or tuberculosis.

  18. Skin rash?

    Why: psoriasis can cause psoriatic arthropathy.

  19. Symptoms of Reiter's syndrome?

    Why: e.g. conjunctivitis, urethritis (painful urination, penile discharge, vaginal discharge), mouth ulcers, pain in the sacro-iliac joints.

  20. Symptoms of Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis or gastroenteritis?
  21. Symptoms of Urinary tract infection?

    Why: may cause loin pain along with stinging of urine, bladder pain and urinary frequency.

  22. Symptoms of depression?

    Why: Chronic lower back pain can increase risk of causing or aggravating depression; Depression can continue to aggravate or maintain the lower back pain even though the provoking problem has disappeared.

  23. Symptoms of spinal canal stenosis?

    Why: e.g. long history of backache; pain initially in the lumbar back area and then radiating distally into buttocks and legs; paresthesia may be present in groin, medial thigh, big toe or little toe.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Lower back pain:

The following list of conditions have 'Lower back pain' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Lower back pain or choose View All.

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