With recent health care policy changes and the implementation of direct access in many states, physical therapists must be able to identify pathology that is beyond their scope of practice. The 5 case reports presented in this series required the differential diagnosis of hip versus lumbar spine pathology. All of the cases required a referral from the physical therapist to either the patient's physician or a specialist because of abnormal screening test results. Each referral resulted in a new diagnosis of pathology that was beyond the scope of physical therapy. Cyriax's concepts of capsular and noncapsular patterns of joint restriction and the "Sign of the Buttock" proved useful in differentiating between hip and lumbar spine pathology in each patient. Our clinical experience indicates that utilizing the presence/absence of a capsular pattern and a "Sign of the Buttock" to screen out hip pathology in patients may be effective; however, further research is needed to support these claims.
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1998;27(4):308-315.
Key Words: hip, lumbar spine, capsular pattern, differential diagnosis