Prognostic indicators in low back pain

J R Coll Gen Pract. 1981 Apr;31(225):209-16.


Nearly four per cent of the population over the age of 15 years in a Danish general practice reported episodes of low back pain at least once a year. A one-year follow-up of 72 patients provided data regarding symptoms, length of absence from work, use of analgesics and bed rest. An indication of the prognosis was reached by relating these data to the history (including occupation), symptoms and signs noted at the initial interview. The following factors indicated a long or relapsing course:1. More than three previous episodes of low back pain.2. Gradual onset of symptoms.3. Pain referred distal to the femur.4. More than four weeks' delay in reporting symptoms.Other factors of prognostic significance were difficulty in moving, onset in relation to work, absence from work, positive straight leg raising test and unilateral pain in the loin.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis