Oswestry Disability Index (ODI)

Oswestry Disability Index (ODI)

Oswestry Disability Index

The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) is an index is derived from the Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire used by clinicians and researchers to quantify disability for low back pain.

The ODI is a 10-item score from 0 to 100 that encompasses limitations in activity, sleeping, social life, work, and personal care resulting from low back pain. Higher scores indicate more severe disability.

This validated questionnaire was first published by Jeremy Fairbank et al. in Physiotherapy in 1980 1).

The current version was published in the journal Spine in 2000 2).

The Oswestry Disability Index is currently considered by many as the gold standard for measuring the degree of disability and estimating the quality of life in a person with low back pain.

The completion of this 10-question survey can be cumbersome. Tools from the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) are an alternative, and potentially more efficient, means of assessing physical, mental, and social outcomes in spine surgery 3).

The patient questionnaire contains topics concerning the intensity of pain, lifting, ability to care for oneself, ability to walk, ability to sit, sexual function, ability to stand, social life, sleep quality, and ability to travel.

Each topic category is followed by 6 statements describing different potential scenarios in the patient’s life relating to the topic. The patient then checks the statement which most closely resembles their situation. Each question is scored on a scale of 0-5 with the first statement being zero and indicating the least amount of disability and the last statement is scored 5 indicating a most severe disability. The index is scored from 0 to 100. Zero is equated with no disability and 100 being a maximum disability.


0% to 20%: Minimal disability

21%-40%: Moderate Disability

41%-60%: Severe Disability

61%-80%: Crippling back pain

81%-100%: These patients are either bed-bound or have an exaggeration of their symptoms.

The Dutch ODI version 2.1a is a valid and valuable tool for the measurement of functional status and disability among Dutch patients with chronic low back pain. This translated condition-specific patient-reported outcome measure version is recommended for use in future back pain research and to evaluate outcome of back care in the Netherlands 4).



Fairbank JC, Couper J, Davies JB, O’Brien JP. The Oswestry low back pain disability questionnaire. Physiotherapy. 1980 Aug;66(8):271-3. PubMed PMID: 6450426.

Fairbank J. Revised Oswestry Disability questionnaire. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2000 Oct 1;25(19):2552. PubMed PMID: 11013514.

Yee TJ, Smith BW, Joseph JR, Saadeh YS, Nathan JK, Kahn EN, Khalsa SS, Fearer KJ, Kirsch MJ, Nerenz DR, Chang V, Schwalb JM, Abdulhak MM, Park P. Correlation between the Oswestry Disability Index and the 4-item short forms for physical function and pain interference from PROMIS. J Neurosurg Spine. 2019 Aug 9:1-6. doi: 10.3171/2019.5.SPINE19400. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31398700.

van Hooff ML, Spruit M, Fairbank JC, van Limbeek J, Jacobs WC. The oswestry disability index (version 2.1a): validation of a dutch language version. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Jan 15;40(2):E83-90. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000683. PubMed PMID: 25575092.

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