Straight-leg test for evaluating low back pain

For a straight-leg test for low back pain, you lie on your back with both legs straight. Your health professional raises one of your legs upward, keeping the knee straight.

  • If you have pain down the back of your leg below the knee when your leg is raised, the test is positive (abnormal).
  • If doing this test on the unaffected leg causes pain in the affected leg, it is more likely that you have a herniated disc. This is known as crossover pain.

Last Updated: February 3, 2010

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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