Low back pain (LBP) is a common reason for adults to seek medical care and is associated with important functional limitation and patient burden. Yet, heterogeneity in the causes and presentation of LBP and a lack of standardization in its management impede effective prevention and treatment.
We conducted a modified Delphi study to generate consensus statements for the diagnosis, management, and prognosis of LBP. A panel of five experts proposed 19 statements that were subsequently evaluated by physicians who treat LBP in their everyday clinical practice. Physicians were asked to validate statements in the form of a web survey assessing level of agreement on a five-point Likert-like scale.
Consensus (≥ 70% agreement) was obtained for all 19 statements. Strength of agreement and physician comments highlighted the importance of pain management, but also strategies to ameliorate functional limitation and prevent future LBP episodes. Respondents favored multidisciplinary approaches and multimodal management for LBP, although there was some ambiguity as to how multidisciplinary strategies could be feasibly incorporated into daily practice. Finally, the results indicated some conflict regarding the use of imaging for the diagnosis of LBP and how to classify LBP for targeted treatment.
The results of this study provide a summary of favored clinical practice for the management of chronic LBP. While the consensus statements were generally agreeable to survey respondents, some areas of ambiguity, including how to increase the feasibility of multidisciplinary strategies, when and how to use diagnostic imaging in LBP, and LBP classification, necessitate clarification in future studies and guidelines.