Publication Date


Journal Title

Pain Physician


BACKGROUND:The COVID pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of human interaction, causing global changes in financial, health care, and social environments for the foreseeable future. More than 1.3 million of the 4 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed globally as of May 2020 have been identified in the United States, testing the capacity and resilience of our hospitals and health care workers. The impacts of the ongoing pandemic, caused by a novel strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), have far-reaching implications for the future of our health care system and how we deliver routine care to patients. The adoption of social distancing during this pandemic has demonstrated efficacy in controlling the spread of this virus and has been the only proven means of infection control thus far. Social distancing has prompted hospital closures and the reduction of all non-COVID clinical visits, causing widespread financial despair to many outpatient centers. However, the need to treat patients for non-COVID problems remains important despite this pandemic, as care must continue to be delivered to patients despite their ability or desire to report to outpatient centers for their general care. Our national health care system has realized this need and has incentivized providers to adopt distance-based care in the form of telemedicine and video medicine visits. Many institutions have since incorporated these into their practices without financial penalty because of Medicare's 1135 waiver, which currently reimburses telemedicine at the same rate as evaluation and management codes (E/M Codes). Although the financial burden has been alleviated by this policy, the practitioner remains accountable for providing proper assessment with this new modality of health care delivery. This is a challenge for most physicians, so our team of national experts has created a reference guide for musculoskeletal and neurologic examination selection to retrofit into the telemedicine experience. OBJECTIVES:To describe and illustrate musculoskeletal and neurologic examination techniques that can be used effectively in telemedicine. STUDY DESIGN:Consensus-based multispecialty guidelines. SETTING:Tertiary care center. METHODS:Literature review of the neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, lumbar, hip, and knee physical examinations were performed. A multidisciplinary team comprised of physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopedics, rheumatology, neurology, and anesthesia experts evaluated each examination and provided consensus opinion to select the examinations most appropriate for telemedicine evaluation. The team also provided consensus opinion on how to modify some examinations to incorporate into a nonhealth care office setting. RESULTS:Sixty-nine examinations were selected by the consensus team. Household objects were identified that modified standard and validated examinations, which could facilitate the examinations.The consensus review team did not believe that the modified tests altered the validity of the standardized tests. LIMITATIONS:Examinations selected are not validated for telemedicine. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were not performed. CONCLUSIONS:The physical examination is an essential component for sound clinical judgment and patient care planning. The physical examinations described in this manuscript provide a comprehensive framework for the musculoskeletal and neurologic examination, which has been vetted by a committee of national experts for incorporation into the telemedicine evaluation.

Volume Number


Issue Number



S205 - S238

Document Type



Northwell Researcher; Northwell Resident


Northwell Health

Additional Departments

COVID-19 Publications