Which clinical history findings are characteristic of mechanical low back pain?

Updated: Mar 06, 2018
  • Author: Everett C Hills, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Answer

An important part of the physical examination is the general observation of the patient. The patient presents with pain in the low back region and often places his or her whole hand against the skin to indicate a regional pain; however, in some cases the patient may indicate a more precise location.

Interruption in bowel or bladder function should be a reminder to consider more serious causes of back pain such as a tumor, infection, or fracture.

Patients generally present with a history of an inciting event that produced immediate low back pain. The most commonly reported histories include the following:

  • Lifting and/or twisting while holding a heavy object (eg, box, child, nursing home resident, a package on a conveyor)

  • Operating a machine that vibrates

  • Prolonged sitting (eg, long-distance truck driving, police patrolling)

  • Involvement in a motor vehicle collision

  • Falls

See Clinical Presentation for more detail


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