Rating scales for low back pain

Br Med Bull. 2010;94:81-144. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldp052. Epub 2010 Jan 10.


Introduction: During the past decades several rating scales have been developed to assess the functional status of patients with low back pain.

Methods: We performed a search using the keywords 'spine' in combination with 'scoring system', 'scale', 'scores', 'outcome assessment', 'low back pain' and 'clinical evaluation'.

Results: Twenty-eight scoring systems are currently available for the evaluation of low back pain. Each of them evaluates low back pain using specific variables. All these scoring systems are presented.

Discussion: Although many scoring systems have been used to evaluate the back function, we are still far from a single outcome evaluation system that is reliable, valid and sensitive to clinically relevant changes, taken into account both patients' and physicians' perspective and is short and practical to use.

Conclusion: Further studies are required to evaluate the reliability, validity and sensitivity of the low back pain scoring systems used in the common clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disability Evaluation
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*