Understanding FCE Scan for Assessing and Addressing Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is a complex condition with multifactorial causes. While structural abnormalities are often primary suspects, inefficient or dysfunctional movement patterns can perpetuate and worsen back pain. The FCE Scan (Functional Capacity Evaluation) offers a novel motion analysis approach that may provide a more complete understanding of factors contributing to an individual’s back pain.

  • What is an FCE Scan?

FCE Scan employs radiation-free technology and focuses on two main areas:

  • Static Scans: These scans assess the patient’s posture, spinal alignment (including any scoliosis), and weight distribution. Imbalances or asymmetries are noted.
  • Dynamic Scans (4D): During these scans, the patient engages in various movements. This allows for analysis of the real-time function of the spine, pelvis, hips, knees, and feet. Areas of restricted motion, misalignment, or compensatory mechanisms may be revealed.
A person observes a virtual model displayed on a computer screen, which appears to be part of an FCE Scan design or fitting process. | FCE Scan
  • FCE Scan and Traditional Imaging

Traditional imaging techniques, such as MRI and X-ray, remain essential for identifying internal structural abnormalities like herniated discs, fractures, or severe osteoarthritis. However, their use in assessing subtle movement-related contributors to pain is limited. FCE Scan provides this data, focusing on how the body moves and identifying areas where inefficient patterns may be exacerbating the patient’s pain experience.

  • Using FCE Scan Data in Treatment Planning

A primary benefit of FCE Scan is its ability to inform individualised rehabilitation programs. By identifying specific movement-related issues, treatment plans can be tailored to:

  • Retrain Movement Patterns: Therapists guide patients to learn new, less stressful ways of moving, thereby potentially decreasing strain on the back.
  • Target Specific Weaknesses: Exercises are prescribed to improve strength, flexibility, and stability in areas identified as deficient during the FCE Scan, optimising support for the spine.
  • Enhance Long-Term Function: Addressing underlying movement dysfunctions may reduce the risk of pain recurrence and improve overall mobility.
A woman seated at a desk is working on a computer showing graphical content related to an FCE Scan, while a man is seated opposite her with his back facing the camera, appearing to be engaged in | FCE Scan
  • Appropriate Candidates for FCE Scan

FCE Scan may be considered for patients who:

  • Experience persistent back pain despite trying various treatment approaches.
  • Seek a more comprehensive understanding of the movement-related factors contributing to their condition.
  • Are willing to commit to a rehabilitation program focused on improving movement efficiency.


  • Chronic back pain is often caused by a combination of structural and movement-related problems.
  • FCE Scan (Functional Capacity Evaluation) is a non-invasive technology that analyses posture and movement patterns to identify potential contributors to back pain.
  • FCE Scan provides data that is distinct from that of MRI or X-ray, offering insights into how movement dysfunction might be worsening Results from an FCE
  • Scan can guide personalised rehabilitation plans focused on correcting inefficient movement patterns, improving strength and flexibility in key areas, and reducing the risk of future pain flares.