Do not routinely offer imaging for uncomplicated low back pain

Review written by Dr Sarah Haag info

Key Points

  1. Imaging for low back pain continues to be overutilized and does not lead to improved outcomes for most cases of low back pain.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Currently imaging is often a routine part of examining a person with low back pain (LBP). Over the past 20 years, evidence has emerged that imaging is not useful in a majority of people presenting with low back pain. Only about 5-10% of low back pain presentations in primary care would necessitate imaging, yet over the past 20 years imagining has increased. This paper sought to explore why this might be the case.

Only about 5-10% of low back pain presentations in primary care would necessitate imaging.
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Even when a clinician is aware of current guidelines, the culture within the clinic and patient preference can make implementing them a challenge.

METHODS

While this paper was not a systematic review, Medline and the Cochrane Library were searched to identify systematic reviews on the use of imaging for LBP, the concordance of imaging with guidelines, physician-reported barriers to guideline adherence, patient expectations regarding

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