A 55-year-old man presents with a history of dull low back pain that began about 10 days ago and is getting worse. It is present all day, is accompanied by some stiffness, but it does not radiate to any other location. It seems associated with prolonged sitting and/or bending. Ibuprofen helps relieve the pain and he is most comfortable lying down. He has experienced an episode of this type of pain in the past and it resolved spontaneously. The pain was not associated with any specific precipitating event. His employer insisted that the patient be evaluated before returning to work.
CC: â€œIâ€™m tired of this back pain.â€
The physical exam reveals no visible abnormalities of the back, but he does have some paraspinal tenderness to palpation in the L3â€“L5 region. Lumbar flexion is markedly diminished because of pain, but otherwise his range of motion is almost normal.