INTRODUCTION: Not only physical findings and pain patterns, but also other factors aggravating or relieving patient's symptom should be important for classifying the patients with LBP. The purpose of this study was to classify patients with LBP by the factors, and to examine how the classified subgroups related to other patient's findings and background.
METHODS: This study consisted of 57 consecutive out patients with LBP. There were 30 men and 27 women with a mean age of 50 years. All the patients completed the questionnaire consisted of 7 questions asking how these factors affect your pain intensity: 1) body movement, 2) sitting, 3) standing, 4) walking, 5) keeping warm, 6) weather change, and 7) diurnal change. Disease specific (Roland‐Morris Disability Questionnaire: RMDQ) and generic (Short From 8: SF‐8) measures were also obtained.
RESULTS: Sample cluster analysis revealed 3 clusters. Cluster 1 consisted of 19 patients (33%) and had characteristic of aggravating symptoms with physical stress. Cluster 2: 31 patients (54 %), and aggravating symptoms in the morning. Cluster 3: 7 patients (12%), and no factors influence their symptoms. Cluster 1 also had characteristic of male dominant, younger, larger body, and frequent low back history. Cluster 2: female dominant. Cluster 3: less low back history, deskwork, lower RMDQ score and higher score in both SF‐8 mental and physical component. There was no difference in duration of symptoms, range of motion, tobacco and alcohol intake and other physical findings.
DISCUSSION: Our results showed that the simple seven questionnaires aggravating or relieving symptoms clearly classified the patients with LBP into 3 clusters, and each cluster had different patient's back ground and physical findings. Further studies are needed to confirm how this classification related to usual diagnosis of LBP, and to various conservative treatment responses.