What are the physical presentations of pain in mechanical low back pain?

Updated: Mar 30, 2020
  • Author: Everett C Hills, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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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.

Realize that much of the physical examination is subjective because a patient-generated response or interpretation to the examiner's questions or maneuvers is required. For example, sensory findings observed during the physical examination and reported symptoms in response to provocative testing are reliant on the patient's response and, hence, represent a somewhat subjective portion of the physical examination. A well-performed and well-documented physical examination, with consistent findings from one visit to the next, can yield important information that may be able to stand up to rigorous scrutiny by any involved third parties (eg, insurance company, attorney, workers' compensation judge). These physical examination findings would need to be put into the context of the patient's symptoms and diagnostic test results.

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