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New Tool to Measure Progress after Treatment for Low Back Pain

Physical therapists working with patients who have low back pain (LBP) need a way to measure progress. Do patients have better function after treatment? Have they made any progress? Finding one tool to assess outcomes no matter how old the patients are is a challenge. The same thing goes when patients also have other health problems. There are many tools already in use, but not one that can be used with everyone. Having patients fill out more than one survey takes too much time. And the different surveys often ask some of the same questions.

Physical therapists in Australia tried combining items from three surveys already commonly in use. They used items from the Short Form-36 Physical Functioning scale (SF-36-PF), the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire, and the Quebec Back Pain Disability Scale.

For this study, 140 subjects from 18 to 89 years of age were recruited. Patients from local health clinics, hospitals, and private practice settings were included. All patients had LBP and were having physical therapy treatment. Everyone answered the same questions twice, six weeks apart.

The results of using this new scale were compared to the original scale. The authors report that the new scale may be better than the original tools for patients with LBP. The new scale is brief, easy to fill out, and finds out about activities most often linked to back problems. This back-specific scale combines the good points of three scales into one with fewer total questions.

Megan Davidson, BAppSci, et al. A Low Back-Specific Version of the SF-36 Physical Functioning Scale. In Spine. March 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 5. Pp. 586-594.

05/12/2004

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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