Consensus guidelines for the management of low back pain recommend that the clinician use contemporary best practice for assessment and treatment, consider biopsychosocial factors and, if chronic, use a multimodal and multi-disciplinary approach.
Where guidelines are not followed and basic assessment is inadequate the diagnosis may be compromised and the sequelae of errors compounded. Factors such as a lack of knowledge or recognition of the common structure specific pain referral patterns, poor clinical reasoning, inappropriate referral and predilection for popular management approaches also contribute to mis-diagnosis and mis-management.
This report describes two cases of chronic low back pain with lengthy histories of multiple failed interventions to highlight the consequences of focussing on a singular approach to the exclusion of evidence based pathways and the resulting risk of a missed diagnosis. The eventual management to mitigate these problems is reported with the aid of low back pain outcome measures, computer-aided combined movement examination, disability and pain questionnaires and health quality of life surveys.