June 23, 2015
1 min read

Physicians may underestimate patient leg pain during clinical consultation

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

SAN FRANCISCO — Physicians accurately deciphered the location of the main source of patients’ pain and the differential between back and leg pain with a good degree of accuracy during a clinical consultation, but often underestimated patients’ satisfaction with their current state and degree of leg pain, according to study findings.

At the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Annual Meeting, Fabio Zaina, MD, explained that additional questions during a consultation may help a physician determine more about their patient’s source and type of pain.

“For the future, we think the more detailed questioning on these domains during the consultation may deliver a better impression of the impact of the back pain on the patient’s daily life,” Zaina said at the meeting.

Zaina and colleagues conducted a two-center international study involving five spine specialists and 108 patients. Prior to consultation, each patient completed a Core Outcome Measures Index (COMI). The physicians also completed a COMI and predicted patients’ most likely answers based on their consultations.

The researchers found the physicians and patients agreed on the “main problem” of pain 83% of the time. For COMI item ratings, such as back pain, leg pain and function, the physicians and patients had moderate-to-strong correlations between their responses; however, physicians showed several failures, consistently overrating patient symptom-specific well-being and underestimating leg pain, according to Zaina. – by Robert Linnehan


Zaina F, et al. Paper #32. Presented at: International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Annual Meeting; June 8-12, 2015; San Francisco.

Disclosure: Zaina reports no relevant financial disclosures.