-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Experts have developed
evidence-based guidelines to help doctors manage patients with
acute low back pain.
Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for outpatient
visits to doctors, but there is a lack of consistency in how best
to handle these cases, according to the team that developed the
guidelines, which were published in the October issue of the
Journal of the American College of Radiology.
"The approach to the workup and management of low back pain by physicians and other practitioners is inconstant," article co-author Dr. Scott Forseen said in a journal news release. "There is significant variability in the diagnostic workup of back pain among physicians within and between specialties."
He and his colleagues at Emory University Hospital and Georgia
Health Sciences University developed a process for how doctors
should manage patients with low back pain.
During their first visit, patients should be categorized into
one of three groups after a thorough medical history and physical
examination: non-specific low back pain; low back pain potentially
associated with compression of a nerve in the spine (radiculopathy)
or abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis); or low
back pain potentially associated with a specific cause.
The guidelines also provide evidence-based information for each
category of patient to guide doctors through the process of
evaluation, management and follow-up of patients, including
recommendations for appropriate imaging and laboratory tests and
referral for consultation about surgery or other procedures.
"We have presented a logical method of choosing, developing and implementing clinical decision support interventions that is based on the best available evidence," Forseen said. "These templates may be reasonably expected to improve patient care, decrease inappropriate imaging utilization, reduce the inappropriate use of steroids and narcotics, and potentially decrease the number of inappropriate invasive procedures."
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about
low back pain.
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