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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

5 Questions Can Determine Degenerative Disc Disease

It's almost like the pendulum is swinging to value subjective history during the interview process.

This study just reached my radar. If we can implement these kinds of studies into our practice (and physicians also), we have an opportunity to reduce the cognitive changes and beliefs that happen after a patient learns and views radiographs and MRIs. 

Below you will find a quick view of the abstract.


Diagnosing Discogenic Low Back Pain Associated with Degenerative Disc Disease Using a Medical Interview.




To evaluate the usefulness of our original five questions in a medical interview for diagnosing discogenic low back pain (LBP), and to establish a support tool for diagnosing discogenic LBP.


The degenerative disc disease (DDD) group (n = 42) comprised patients diagnosed with discogenic LBP associated with DDD, on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging findings and response to analgesic discography (discoblock). The control group (n = 30) comprised patients with LBP due to a reason other than DDD. We selected patients from those who had been diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis and had undergone decompression surgery without fusion. Of them, those whose postoperative LBP was significantly decreased were included in the control group. We asked patients in both groups whether they experienced LBP after sitting too long, while standing after sitting too long, squirming in a chair after sitting too long, while washing one's face, and in the standing position with flexion. We analyzed the usefulness of our five questions for diagnosing discogenic LBP, and performed receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis to develop a diagnostic support tool.


There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics, except age, between the groups. There were significant differences between the groups for all five questions. In the age-adjusted analyses, the odds ratios of LBP after sitting too long, while standing after sitting too long, squirming in a chair after sitting too long, while washing one's face, and in standing position with flexion were 10.5, 8.5, 4.0, 10.8, and 11.8, respectively. The integer scores were 11, 9, 4, 11, and 12, respectively, and the sum of the points of the five scores ranged from 0 to 47. Results of the ROC analysis were as follows: cut-off value, 31 points; area under the curve, 0.92302; sensitivity, 100%; and specificity, 71.4%.


All five questions were useful for diagnosing discogenic LBP. We established the scoring system as a support tool for diagnosing discogenic LBP.

2016 Nov 7;11(11):e0166031. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166031. eCollection 2016.