Decrease Use of Imaging for Low Back Pain

The Physician Alliance is committed to helping provide appropriate use of healthcare services and tests to improve patient care, while also working to lower costs.


Decreasing the use of imaging for low back pain within the first four weeks of symptoms promotes the use of evidence-based medicine when making health care stewardship decisions. This is also a HEDIS METRIC.

The below tip of for providers working with patients experiencing low back pain:

    • DO NOT do imaging for low back pain within the first four weeks, unless there has been recent trauma, history of cancer, loss of feeling/weakness/numbness in the lower limbs, IV drug use, fever, weight loss, or incontinence.


TPA created a poster focused on decreasing imaging for low back pain within the first four weeks of diagnosis. Practices are encouraged to post this flyer in waiting areas and exam rooms to help support conversations between patients and physicians.

Choosing Wisely, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation, is a national healthcare campaign to promote important healthcare conversations between physicians and patients. Working with national medical societies, Choosing Wisely has produced numerous tip sheets focused on physician tips and patient tips.

Sources: American College of Radiology; American Academy of Family Physicians; Agency for Health Care Research & Policy;; American College of Physicians