This is a Masters degree or Clinical Doctoral level program entirely focused on instruction in the diagnosis of persistent low back and referred lower extremity pain. It is suitable for health care clinicians such as physiotherapists, medical practitioners and other clinicians actively diagnosing and treating patients presenting in primary, secondary or tertiary care environments. In all there are 4 Modules to this course, with Modules 1, 2 & 3 being online undertaken in strict sequence. Module 4 consists of practical face-to-face seminar days and may be undertaken after Module 1 has been completed.. 

Module 1 focuses on the most common sources of low back pain, the anterior column and the spinal nerve roots. There are 16 formal audio-enhanced PowerPoint lessons that are accessed through private YouTube Channels. In addition there 9 case studies some of which are short and others that are full videoed assessment and treatment sessions. There are other videos of relevant subjects as well. 

The program is strongly evidence based and you will need to download and read over many scientific papers in the form of pdf documents. The course manual matches the content of the online material but is completed by you, in that you record all your activities, questions and readings as you proceed through the course. Module 1 should take you 2 months to complete, but plan on a three month study program of at least 5-6 hours a week. There is an Excel(TM)  workbook that already has all activities entered with adjacent check boxes for you to activate as soon as you have completed an activity. make a habit of opening this spreadsheet immediately after completing an activity (watch a lesson, video or read a paper). The spreadsheet keep a record of the number of hours you spend, which makes it easy for you to document the continuing education credits. Do not wait until the end of the course to do this as you will almost certainly under estimate the number of credits you have earned.

As you near completion of this Module, take time to consider when you wish to start Module 2. It is Modules 2 & 3 that contain the less common complaints, and mastery of the diagnosis of these conditions is what will make you a bone fide diagnostician of painful lumbar musculoskeletal conditions. It is consistency that get you through the material in time. If you run out of time, don't panic! You can purchase additional access time to the material for a modest amount at any time. Good luck, and work on the course material every week.

Welcome to Module 2 of the course "Diagnosis of Persistent Low Back and Referred Lower Extremity Pain! You have already complete Module 1 and now are ready to extend that knowledge to more advanced anterior column material in the form of more case studies, consideration of the sacroiliac joint and the posterior column as sources of pain. 

The first part of this Module is aimed to getting your mind back into learning mode, and starts with a simple Module 1 review lesson. This leads directly into a case study that will complete the material of Module 1: the anterior column. This case was diagnostically simple enough but the patient was more complex in management and well worth the time and effort to explore in detail.

Following that case study, you will then look at the sacroiliac joint as a source of pain, After that, the posterior column, which will include the Zygapophyseal (facet) joint, spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis. The issue of lumbar instability follows and all of these parts of the puzzle have relevant case studies in support.

At the end of this Module, some 3 months later, you will have much of the base material necessary to start seeing the bigger picture. That is the role of Module 3, which looks at the claudicant patient (stenosis and peripheral vascular disease), the hip and buttock, and the confounders of sensitization, psychosocial distress and illness behaviours. Make sure you put in at least 5 hours per week, continue to build your course manual, and maintain your Excel(TM) worksheet for CEU documentation.


Welcome to Module 3 of the course "Diagnosis of Persistent Low Back and Referred Lower Extremity Pain"! You are now ready to see the bigger picture. In this Module you will explore the claudicant patient who may have spinal stenosis, peripheral vascular disease or a hip/buttock related problem. You will see some unusual cases, and consider the issue of the how a psychosocial dimension may act to confound diagnosis & treatment.

It is this Module that puts all the pieces of the puzzle together and enables you to start seeing yourself as a true diagnostician in regards to the lumbar spine and pelvis. 

During this Module you must start to consider how you can attend one of the Module 4 seminars that will be arranged in various places throughout the world. While most of the content of this course can quite reasonably be explored online, there is no substitute for a face-to-face seminar environment for learning exactly how to do the sacroiliac joint tests or neurologic screening examination. Just how hard do you push when correcting a lateral shift deformity. Seeing patients being assessed on video is always less powerful that seeing patients in-the-flesh and in real time, which the seminar organizers can hopefully arrange as part of that course. Perhaps the most important part of a Module 4 seminar, is the opportunity to interact directly with the instructor, and with other colleagues in real time for a few days.

Once you have successfully completed this Module, you should then consider receiving formal instruction of the science of diagnostics as such - as distinct from the science of therapeutics. That course will be much shorter than this four Module course on the lumbar spine & pelvis and will hopefully be available from SMS sometime in 2018. The course on the science of diagnostics will teach you where the values for diagnostic accuracy come from, how to calculate them from data yourself, and how to read and understand diagnostic accuracy study reports. In short, it will complete your education as a practical and theoretical diagnostician.

Don't forget to continue to maintain and update your course manual, and keep ticking off those items in the Excel(TM) workbook so you have a complete CEU record for submission to licensing agencies. You will receive your certificate of course completion once you have submitted that Excel spreadsheet and the course evaluation to SMS. 

Thanks for your time and commitment!