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[ The Test | Interpretation | Scoring ]

The Oswestry Disability Index:

The Oswestry Disability Index (aka: Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire) is a time-tested outcome assessment tool that is used to measure a patient's impairment and quality of life (i.e., how badly the pain has effected their life). The test has been around for 25 years (2) and, arguably, is the "gold standard" of low back functional outcome tools (1). Although, thoses who designed have obviously nerve had chronic pain, for some of the questions are not very well designed--never the less, many, many practices use it, so we are stuck with it.

INSTRUCTIONS: Simply answer the questions by choosing the 'best answer' that describes your 'typical' pain and/or limitations within the last week or two. You can only choose ONE answer. If your limitations fall in-between two questions, pick the higher point value question. After you have finished the test, add up your points, divide that number by 50, and multiply by 100 to get your percent disability. If you only answer 9 of the 10 five-point-questions, then divide by 45.

There are currently four English versions of the ODI floating around. I will use version 2.0 which is the same one that Stanford uses. Let's take the test!

Fairbanks has contacted me and will not allow any version to be public. If you're interested, you can get it free here after agreeing to an annoying disclosure statement:



Now, simply add up your points for each section and plug it in to the following formula in order to calculate your level of disability: point total / 50 X 100 = % disability (aka: 'point total' divided by '50' multiply by ' 100 = percent disability). If you only answered 9 of the 10 questions, then divide by 45... etc.

For example: my Current level of disability, 11-11-04 is calculated as follows:
14 / 50 X 100 = 28%


0% to 20%: minimal disability: The patient can cope with most living activities. Usually no treatment is indicated apart from advice on lifting sitting and exercise.

21%-40%: moderate disability: The patient experiences more pain and difficulty with sitting lifting and standing. Travel and social life are more difficult and they may be disabled from work. Personal care sexual activity and sleeping are not grossly affected and the patient can usually be managed by conservative means.

41%-60%: severe disability: Pain remains the main problem in this group but activities of daily living are affected. These patients require a detailed investigation.

61%-80%: crippled: Back pain impinges on all aspects of the patient's life. Positive intervention is required.

81%-100%: These patients are either bed-bound or exaggerating their symptoms.


1) Fairbank JC, Pynsent PB, "The Oswestry Disability Index." Spine 2000; 25(22):2940-2952

2) Fairbank JCT, Couper J, Davies JB. "The Oswestry low Back Pain Questionnaire." Physiotherapy 1980; 66: 271-273.

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