Nonspecific Chronic Back Pain: Sixth Edition Approaches
Jay Blaisdell
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James B. Talmage
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Abstract

Ratings for “non-specific chronic, or chronic reoccurring, back pain” are based on the diagnosis-based impairment method whereby an impairment class, usually representing a range of impairment values within a cell of a grid, is selected by diagnosis and “specific criteria” (key factors). Within the impairment class, the default impairment value then can be modified using non-key factors or “grade modifiers” such as functional history, physical examination, and clinical studies using the net adjustment formula. The diagnosis of “nonspecific chronic, or chronic reoccurring, back pain” can be rated in class 0 and 1; the former has a default value of 0%, and the latter has a default value of 2% before any modifications. The key concept here is that the physician believes that the patient is experiencing pain, yet there are no related objective findings, most notably radiculopathy as distinguished from “nonverifiable radicular complaints.” If the individual is found not to have radiculopathy and the medical record shows that the patient has never had clinically verifiable radiculopathy, then the diagnosis of “intervertebral disk herniation and/or AOMSI [alteration of motion segment integrity] cannot be used.” If the patient is asymptomatic at maximum medical improvement, then impairment Class 0 should be chosen, not Class 1; a final whole person impairment rating of 1% indicates incorrect use of the methodology.

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