Course Overview

Cost: $160.00 NZD

Access: 60 days

Study time: 10 hours approx.

For physiotherapists who have graduated recently or are starting to learn management of back pain patients. 

This course teaches practical hands-on assessment and management of people with LBP. Learn how to identify which patients you can manage yourself with good quality basic care and identify those patients who need more advanced knowledge/experience or referral for specialist advice or intervention.

Covered in the course:

  • Red flags
  • Clinical history
  • Physical examination of LBP
  • Simple LBP treatment

The use of video presentations, real patient video cases, plus easy to use interactive forms for clinical notes, will give you the confidence to assess and manage people with low back pain. 

You also get complimentary 60-day access to Quick Q&A online questionnaire service to help you efficiently identify patients with red flags and those with a high risk of experiencing persistent pain.

Chapter 1: The Clinical History. 

This chapter will step you through the definition and terminology of low back pain, essential screening questionnaires for red flags and risk stratification, how to take a basic clinical history integrating the questionnaire scores, and presents a real-patient case study to show how the clinical history works in the practice setting. 

Chapter 2: The Physical Examination. 

This chapter will teach you how to conduct a basic physical examination for a patient with LBP. This includes observation, range of motions testing and basic neurologic screening examination and talks you through clinical reasoning process to help interpret the results of physical examination tests. A video of a physical examination shows you how this works in the clinical setting. 

Chapter 3: Treatment. 

This chapter will teach you how to treat those patients with mild or moderate pain and with low or medium risk of persistent pain. You will learn how to do the simple things well: an extension protocol, a flexion protocol, and how to select which protocol to use. Learn the specifics of what advice to give, what exercises and posture instruction to recommend, what self-treatment works for most of these patients. Learn how to follow up, progress and discharge patients. Learn basic reporting for back pain patients

Learning outcomes:

  1. Knowledge of prevalence and impact of back pain on the individual and society
  2. Able to carry out an evidence based clinical history
  3. Able to select appropriate questionnaires to identify red flags
  4. Use the StartBacK screening tool to assess psychosocial distress and risk of persistent pain.
  5. Identify cases with possible radicular pain and/or radiculopathy
  6. Able to identify that subgroup of patients suitable for basic level guideline care, and those patients who require more advanced or specialist level care
  7. Able to do a standard physical examination that includes observation, differentiating between normal asymmetry and relevant deformity, neurologic screening for nerve root compression.
  8. Able to select appropriate treatment protocols for each patient. 
  9. Lean to follow up in a timely and appropriate manner.
  10. Able to discharge patients in a timely and appropriate manner
  11. Able to adequately document baseline, initial and follow up assessment/treatment findings in clinical notes.

Course curriculum

  1. 1
    • A message from the instructor

    • How to use this course

    • Course Overview

    • Copyright Warning Notice

    • About you

    • Before we begin...

    • Course Manual

    • Discussion Group

  2. 2
    • Lesson 1: Back Pain. What is it?

    • References for the course

    • Essential Patient Questionnaire Forms Overview

    • Quick Q & A Form Link

    • Red Flags & StartBack Screening Tool Clinical History Forms - Essential

    • Lesson 2: The Clinical History

    • Before you watch the clinical history taking video..

    • Case Study. Matty: Acute low back pain Clinical History

    • Chapter 1 Quiz

  3. 3
    • Matty Clinical History Report by Mark

    • The Physical Examination: Course process

    • The Physical Examination Form

    • Lesson 3: The Physical Examination

    • Case Study. Matty: Acute Low Back Pain Initial Physical Examination

    • Lesson 4: Clinical Reasoning Linking Clinical History & Physical Examination Findings

    • Chapter 2 Quiz

    • Instructor's Clinical Assessment report for Matty: History and Physical Examination

  4. 4
    • Lesson 5: Introduction to simple treatment for Low Back Pain

    • References for Chapter 3

    • Lesson 6: An Extension protocol for a subset of Low Back Pain

    • Case Study: Matty Initial Treatment

    • Case Study Matty: Follow up day 2 & 4 with Discharge

    • Lesson 7: A Flexion protocol for a subset of Low Back Pain

    • Case Study. Vignette of Initial Assessment of Ian, a flexion responder

    • Lesson 8: Follow up Assessments & Discharge

    • Chapter 3 Quiz

  5. 5
    • Lesson 9: Congratulations! What Now?

    • More resources for you

    • Before you go...Course Evaluation



Dr Mark Laslett


Physiotherapy Specialist Musculoskeletal

After graduation as a physiotherapist in 1971, Mark owned and operated his own private practices in Auckland from 1972-2001, including a specialist Spine Care Clinic (1991-1997). He completed the Diploma in Manipulative Therapy in 1976 and the Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy in 1991. Mark moved to Christchurch in 2005 and has practiced as an independent musculoskeletal consultant for PhysioSouth Ltd since then.

Mark was a manipulative therapy instructor for the spine and upper and lower extremities for the NZ Manipulative Therapists Association 1980-1988 and was president 1988-89. He commenced teaching mobilization and manipulation workshops for the McKenzie Institute International as an international instructor in 1985 and added his own courses on the upper and lower extremities in 1990. Mark ceased active involvement in the McKenzie Institute in 1997. He has presented about 250 short courses in Scandinavia, Europe, North America and Australasia, and has presented at many international conferences with free papers and as keynote presenter. Most recently in 2013 he has completed a teaching tour of courses and conferences that included presentations in Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, France and the USA.

His academic and research interest is in the theory and practice of diagnostics as distinct from therapeutics. He has over 40 publications, contributed chapters to two multi-author books and published his own text Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy: The Upper Limb in 1996. See Reference List at end of this brief biography. Mark commenced doctoral studies at the University of Linköping, Sweden in 2001, successfully defending his thesis “Diagnostic accuracy of the clinical examination compared to available reference standards in chronic low back pain patients” in 2005. He became a Fellow of the New Zealand College of Physiotherapy in 2007 and served as a member of its Academic Board 2008-2014. He was a senior Research Fellow for AUT University from 2008-2012 supervising doctoral and Master’s research projects. He became the first physiotherapist to be registered as a clinical specialist in February 2014. Mark was made an honorary Life Member of Physiotherapy New Zealand in September 2014, and of the New Zealand Manipulative Physiotherapists Association in 2015. He continues to practice as a consultant clinician and remains active in clinical research.

Main areas of Interest:

Painful musculoskeletal disorders of the spine and extremities with special emphasis on persistent low back, neck and shoulder pain. Musculoskeletal diagnostics (as distinct from therapeutics) remains an ongoing research interest.

He is currently working with Dr Tom Petersen of Copenhagen on updating their lumbar spine classification system (2003) and with Dr Arianne Verhagen of Erasmus University in updating the systematic review of tests for lumbar radiculopathy. He is currently adjunct research fellow at AUT University on the basis of supervising a doctoral candidate whose research is based on the diagnostic accuracy of the clinical examination of the hip.