Mount Carmel Health Partners Clinical Guidelines Low Back Pain

Acute Low Back Pain Clinical Guideline Low back pain is the second most common reason for clinical visits in the U.S. Only 15 percent of all low back pain has an anatomical explanation and 84 percent of adults have low back pain at some point; it is usually a benign, self-limiting condition. Ninety percent of these patients resolve within six weeks regardless of intervention. Acute low back pain last no more than 4 weeks. Subacute low back pain last between 4 to 12 weeks and may develop into Chronic low back pain which persist for greater than 12 weeks. Evaluation Treatment Patient with Low Back Pain—Initial Evaluation • Check vital signs • History: • Physical exam: - Previous treatment and outcomes - Pain scale evaluation - Medications, coagulopathy - Function testing (Oswerthy Disability Questionnaire) - Traumatic injury - Incisions, skin changes, rash (suggesting herpes zoster) - Recent post-op patient - Vascular exam: pulsatile abdominal or inguinal mass - Osteoporosis - Focal spinal tenderness - Drug seeking behavior - Neurological exam: signs of cord compression, bilateral leg weakness or numbness or signs of cauda equina syndrome; significant signs of nerve root compression - Macromastia Are there red flag Indicators? • Cancer (or other serious disease) present or suspected • Severe progressive neurologic deficits • Infection • Cauda equina • Trauma • Vascular • Renal colic suspected Yes Conservative Treatment Plan • Provide reassurance • Education • Avoid imaging • Heat or cold • Encourage activity; exercise with core strengthening, as tolerated • Weight loss • Consider nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)/acetaminophen medications • Consider muscle relaxants as an short term option for 1-7 day ( be aware of possible side effects) • Address psychosocial issues and fears, such as depression or pain Rx addiction • Consider chiropractic referral • Consider acupuncture • Consider referral for physical therapy • Avoid narcotics (either as a sole prescription or in combination) • Re-evaluate after 1-2 weeks Red flags are present. See red flag indicator algorhythm Care is complete No Yes Are symptoms improved (<12 weeks from onset)? No Re-evaluate for Red Flag Indicators • Provide reassurance • Evaluate for specific conditions • Consider MRI or CT myelogram • Encourage activity; exercise with or without strengthening, as tolerated • Consider referral to a specialist; provide medical necessity documentation for specialist referral: duration of symptoms , level of pain, and supporting documents of conservative treatment trials, i.e., pain specialists, physical therapy, acupuncture, and other physicians February 2018