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Parcours de soins pour les lombalgies

Date de la dernière mise à jour : février 2024

Clinical Examination

Clinical Cornerstone:

  • It’s important to view the patient holistically, considering the biopsychosocial aspects of the patient’s condition. When re-evaluating existing patients, especially those presenting with new complaints, a thorough assessment is just as imperative.

Useful for arriving at a diagnosis:

  • Observations: Abnormalities, asymmetries, posture, gait, movements.

  • Red Flags: Examination of signs or symptoms that might indicate a more serious underlying condition (see 'Red Flags' Section).

  • Range of Motion: Lumbar spine's active and passive ROM in all planes (flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation). Consider regional and segmental hypomobility, hypermobility and abherrant movement patterns.

  • Neurological Examination:
    • Straight Leg Raise Test: Assess for sciatic nerve irritation. A positive test may indicate nerve root compression or irritation.

    • Motor Strength: Test the strength of the lower extremities. Pay attention to any asymmetry or weakness that could indicate nerve root involvement or motor neuron pathology.

    • Sensory Examination: Check for any sensory deficits in the lower extremities. Look for patterns of loss that correspond to dermatomal or peripheral nerve distributions.

    • Reflexes: Test the Achilles and patellar reflexes. Asymmetry or absence of reflexes can be indicative of nerve root compression or other neurological conditions.

    • Lower Motor Neuron Signs: Look for signs or lower motor neuron dysfunction such as muscle atrophy, fasciculations, and reduced muscle tone. Symmetrical loss of function may indicate a systemic neurological condition.

    • Upper Motor Neuron Signs: Assess for signs of upper motor neuron involvement like increased muscle tone, hyperreflexia, and the presence of pathological reflexes (e.g., Babinski sign).

    • Clonus: Test for clonus, especially at the ankle, as it can be a sign of upper motor neuron pathology. Sustained clonus is often associated with significant neurological impairment.


May help guide treatment:

  • Palpation: Lumbar spine and surrounding musculature to identify areas of tenderness, etc.

  • Special/Orthopedic Tests: Select tests to use alongside a comprehensive clinical examination, since the specificity and sensitivity of these tests vary. Examples include: Passive straight leg raise, Well leg raise, FABER (Patrick’s) test, Kemp’s test, Piriformis test, Trendelenburg test, Thomas Test, Gaenslen’s test, Valsalva Maneuver, Prone Instability test, Quadrant test, Schober’s test, Femoral Nerve Traction test, Milgram’s test, Slump test, Single Leg Stance (Stork) test.

Conduct patient assessment

Red flags present

Red flags present

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Refer to appropriate emergency or healthcare provider

Non-specific LBP or LBP with radiculopathy:

  • Education

  • Self-care

  • Exercise

  • Manual therapy

  • Medicines

  • Psychological therapy

  • Social support

  • Mind-body interventions

  • Needling therapies, electrotherapies*

  • Mobility assistive devices

  • Multicomponent biopsychosocial care

  • Topical ceyenne pepper

Additionally for LBP with radiculopathy:

  • Medical/surgical consultations

Other specific LBP:

  • Refer to appropriate emergency or healthcare provider

Major symptom/sign change

Goals not achieved


Adjust treatment and management plan or refer

References or links to primary sources

Contact information for further inquiries or feedback


These care pathways are intended to provide information to practitioners who provide care to people with musculoskeletal conditions. The care pathways on this website are 'living' documents, reflecting the state of clinical practice and research evidence to our best knowledge at the time of development. As knowledge and healthcare practices evolve, these pathways may be updated to ensure they remain current and evidence driven. These pathways are not intended to replace advice from a qualified healthcare provider.

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