Mnemonic for Differential Diagnosis for Back Pain

Remember the differential diagnosis for Back Pain using the mnemonic DISK MASS.


  • Degeneration {DJD, Osteoporosis, Spondylosis}
  • Infection {UTI, PID, Potts, Osteo, Prostatitis}
  • +Injury/Fracture, compression fracture
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing
  • +Spondyloarthropathies {Rheumatoid, Reiters, SLE}
  • Kidney stones/infarction/infection {Pyelonephritis /abscess}
  • Multiple Myeloma,
  • +Metastasis from breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, kidney CA
  • Aneurysm – Abdominal
  • Slipped Disk, Spondylolisthesis, Spinal Stenosis
  • Strain, Scoliosis/lordosis, Skin {Herpes Zoster}

Another mnemonic to remember the differential diagnosis for Back Pain is The MINOR.

  • Trauma {Fractures, Herniated disc}
  • Mechanical,
  • +Metabolic {osteoporosis and osteosclerosis}
  • Inflammatory {Ankylosing Spondylitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Reactive arthritis},
  • +Infection {Vertebral osteomyelitis, Spinal epidural abscess, Discitis, Meningitis, Lumbar arachnoiditis}
  • Neurologic {Radiculopathy/nerve root injury, Spinal stenosis},
  • +Neoplasms {Metastatic disease, multiple myeloma, Primary bone tumors}
  • Other {Degenerative, spondylosis, Chronic pain syndrome, Conversion disorder, Malingering, Developmental}
  • Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm,
  • +Referred pain

Also, remember red flag signs in Back pain using the mnemonic TUNA FISH.


  • Trauma
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Neurologic symptoms
  • Age > 50
  • Fever
  • IV drug use
  • Steroid Use
  • History of cancer

Hope that mnemonic helped. Got a better mnemonic for the same? Let us know in the comments below.
Also check out these medical mnemonics

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