Outline to back pain presentation


žCentralization, although first described by McKenzie14, has been replicated in multiple research studies15,16,17.

žCentralization is the movement of symptoms from an area distal to the spine to a more proximal segment14,18.

žPeripherilization is the movement of symptoms, originating from the spine, from a more proximal and central location to a more distal location14.

žThe centralization phenomenon, when produced in patients, correlates with good outcome9,10,18,19.

žPatients presenting as non-centralizers are six times more likely to require surgical intervention19.

žCentralization is shown to highly correlate with a discogenic lesion20.


  • Spinal Stenosis= reduction of the surface area of the spinal canal or foramen

–No clinical feature or diagnostic test can confirm that stenosis is the cause of symptoms

–A literature review determined that “all studies favored decompressive surgery for improvement of pain, function and quality of life, as well as in terms of patient satisfaction” compared to conservative care24

  • The advantage of surgery was noted within 3-6 months and remained constant for up to 4 years.
  • Surgery is more cost-effective for this group of patients
  • Appropriate for patients that have not improved with 12 weeks of conservative care.


žThere are multiple systematic reviews demonstrating that ESI’s can be effective in the short term and long term for managing back pain for both discogenic pain and stenotic pain21,22

žFollowing an ESI, about 45% of patients then demonstrate centralization and report 90% satisfaction of results after 1 year23

žAny questions?


1.Garzillo MJD, Garzillo TAF. Review of the Literature: Does Obesity Cause Low Back Pain? JMPT 1994;17(9):601-604.

2.Hill JC, Whitehurst DGT, Lewis M, et al. Comparison of stratified primary care management for low back pain with the current best practice (STarT Back): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2011;378:1560-1571.

3.Walker BF, Williamson OD. Mechanical or inflammatory low back pain. What are the potential signs and symptoms? Manual Therapy 2009;14:314-320.

4.Fritz JM, Cleland JA, Speckman M, et al. Physical Therapy for Acute Low Back Pain: Associations with Subsequent Healthcare Costs. Spine 2008;33(16):1800-1805.

5.Shin G, Mirka G. An in vivo assessment of the low back response to prolonged flexion: Interplay between active and passive tissues. Clin Biomech 2007;22:965-971.

6.Kelsey JL, Githens PB, White AA, et al. An Epidemiologic Study of Lifting and Twisting on the Job and Risk for Acute Prolapsed Lumbar Intervertebral disc. J Orthop Research 1984;2:61-66.

7.Pople IK, Griffith HB. Prediction of an Extruded Fragment in Lumbar Disc Patients from Clinical Presentations. Spine 1994;19(2):156-158.

8.Natural history of lumbar disc hernia with radicular leg pain: Spontaneous MRI changes of the herniated mass and correlation with clinical outcome. J orthopedic surg 2001;9(1):1-7.

9.Long A, Donelson R, Fung T. Does it Matter Which Exercise? A Randomized Control Trial of Exercise for Low Back Pain. Spine 2004. 29(23):2593-2602.

10.Long A, May S, Fung T. Specific Directional Exercises for Patients with Low Back Pain: A Case Series. Physiotherapy Canada 2008;60:307-317.


  1. Kovacs FM, Urrutia G, Alarcon JD. Surgery Versus Conservative Treatment for Symptomatic Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Spine 2011;36(20):1334-1351.
  2. Urquhart DM, Bell R, Cicuttini FM, et al. Low back pain and disability in community-based women: prevalence and associated factors. Menopause 2009;16(1):24-29.
  3. Konstantinou K, Dunn K. Sciatica: Review of Epidemiological Studies and Prevalence Estimates. Spine 2008;33(22):2464-2472.
  4. McKenzie R, May S. The Lumbar Spine: Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy. 2nd ed. Waikanae, New Zealand: Spinal Publication Ltd;2003.

15.Delitto A, Cibulka MT, Erhard RE, et al. Evidence for an extension-mobilization category in acute low back syndrome: A prescriptive validation pilot study. Phys Ther 1993;73:216-228.

16.Donelson R, Silva G, Murphy K. The centralizaiotn phenomenon: Its usefulness in evaluationg and treating referred pain. Spine 1990;15:211-215.

17.Donelson R, Grant W, Kamps C, Medcalf R. Pain response to sagittal end-range spinal motion: A multi-centered, prospective randomized trial. Spine 1991;16:S206-212.

  1. Werneke MW, Hart DL, Cutrone G, et al. Association Between Directional Preference and Centralization in Patients with Low Back Pain. JOSPT 2011;41(1): 22-31.
  2. Skytte L, May S, Peterson P. Centralization: its prognostic value in patients with referred symptoms and sciatica. Spine 2005;30(11):293-299
  3. Laslett M, Oberg B, Aprill C, McDonald B. Centralization as a predictor of provocation discography results in chronic low back pain, and the influence of disability and distress on diagnostic power. Spine Journal 2005;5:370-380.


  1. Manchikanti L, Kaye AD, Manchikanti K, et al. Efficacy of epidural injections in the treatment of lumbar central spinal stenosis: a systematic review. Anesth Pain Med. 2015;5(1):e23139.
  2. ManchikantiL, Buenaventura RM, Manchikanti K, et al. Effectiveness of therapeutic lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injections in managing lumbar spinal pain. Pain Physician. 2012;15(3):E199-245.
  3. van Helvoirt H, Apeldoorn AT, Ostelo RW, et al. Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injections followed by mechanical diagnosis and therapy to prevent surgery for lumbar disc herniation. Pain Med. 2014;15(7):1100-1108.


Author: Dr. Vince Gutierrez, PT, cert. MDT

After having dedicated 8 years to growing my knowledge regarding the profession of physical therapy, it seems only fitting that I join the social media world in order to spread a little of the knowledge that I have gained over the years. This by no means is meant to act in place of a one-one medical consultation, but only to supplement your baseline knowledge in which to choose a practitioner for your problem. Having completed a Master of Physical Therapy degree, the MDT (Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy) certification and currently finishing a post-graduate doctorate degree, I have spent the previous 12 years in some sort of post-baccalalaureate study. Hopefully the reader finds the information insightful and uses the information in order to make more informed healthcare decisions. MISSION STATEMENT: My personal mission statement is as follows: As a professional, I will provide a thorough assessment of your clinical presentation and symptoms in order to determine both the provocative and relieving positions and movements. The assessment process and ensuing treatment will be based on current and relevant evidence. Furthermore, I will educate the patients regarding their symptoms and their likelihood of improving with either skilled therapy, an independent exercise program, spontaneous recovery or if the patient should be referred to a separate specialist to possibly provide a more rapid resolution of symptoms. Respecting the patient’s limited resources is important and I will provide an accurate overview of the prognosis within 7 visits, again based on current research. My goal is to empower the patient in order to take charge of both the symptomatic resolution and return to full function with as little dependence on the therapist as possible. Personally, I strive to be an example for family and friends. My goal is to demonstrate that success is not a byproduct of situations, but a series of choices and actions. I will mentor those, in any way possible, that are having difficulty with the choices and actions for success. I will continue to honor my family’s “blue-collar” roots by working to excel at my chosen career and life situations. I choose to be a leader of example, and not words, all the while reducing negativity in my life. I began working towards the professional aspect of the mission statement while still in physical therapy school. By choosing an internship that emphasized patient care and empowering the patient, instead of the internship that was either closest to home or where I knew that I would have the easiest road to graduation, I took the first step towards learning how to utilize the evidence to teach patients how to reduce their symptoms. I continued this process by completing Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy courses A-D and passing the credentialing exam. I will continue to pursue my clinical education through CEU’s on MDT and my goal is to obtain the status of Diplomat of MDT. Returning back to school for the t-DPT was a major decision for me, as resources (i.e. time and money) are limited. My choice was between saving money for the Dip MDT course (about 15,000 dollars) and continuing on with the Fellowship of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) (about 5,000 dollars), as these courses are paired through the MDT curriculum or returning to school to work towards a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. I initially planned on saving for the Dip MDT and FAAOMPT, but life changes forced me to re-evaluate my situation. The decision then changed to return for the tDPT, as my employer paid for a portion of the DPT program. My goal for applying to and finishing the Dip MDT and FAAOMPT is 10 years. This is how long I anticipate that it will take to finish paying student loans and save for both programs, based on the current rate of payment. I don’t know if I will ever accomplish what I set forth in the mission statement, but I do know that it will be a forever struggle to maintain this standard that I set for myself.

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