Differential Diagnosis in PT, P-06: Screening for Systemic Disease - The Neck and Back (U)


This course, Screening for Systemic Disease: The Neck and Back, is part 6 of a 10-part series entitled Differential Diagnosis in Physical Therapy. The overall course will introduce students and clinicians to the role that health screenings and review of systems play in the clinical decision making that leads to a physical therapy diagnosis.

The course is designed for physical therapists working with clients in all settings and at all levels from beginner to advanced. This particular section will review clues suggesting systemic or viscerogenic neck or back pain and take you through each system that can refer pain or symptoms to the neck or back. This will include GI, pulmonary, renal and urologic, gynecologic, and vascular (both peripheral and cardiovascular) causes of neck or back pain.

The instructional focus of this course is on developing advanced clinical reasoning skills related to determining a client’s appropriateness for physical therapy. The course builds on concepts of evidence-based clinical practice as they are used to identify conditions that might mimic neuromuscular or musculoskeletal dysfunction. Screening problems in the neck and back for systemic disease is the focus of this Part 6 of the series: Differential Diagnosis in Physical Therapy.

Upon completion of this course, the Learner will be able to:

  • Identify 3 signs and symptoms of systemic origin affecting the neck and back, including the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine
  • Describe pain patterns referred to the neck and/or back originating from the GI system and use clinical judgment to establish a POC for PT intervention
  • Recall special questions to ask men and women with significant risk factors presented, analyze and correlate with systemic disease presenting as neck and/or back pain using clinical judgment to develop a PT intervention POC
  • Identify which neck and/or back conditions require medical referral

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