MSK Information for Patients and Families 

What to expect when you are referred to MSK Low Back Pain (LBP) Care

The Rapid Access Clinic (RAC) for musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions is designed to provide you with timely assessment of your low back pain condition and a personalized self-management plan that will empower you to manage your low back pain. To access the program, you may ask your Primary Care Provider to send a referral to Central Intake where the referral will be routed to a RAC closest to your home. The RAC will contact you to schedule an appointment with a regulated health professional(Assessor with specialized training in low back care. You can expect an appointment date within four weeks.

Who is eligible for this program?

The program is intended for patients who are:

  • over 18 years of age with persistent low back pain and/or related symptoms (e.g.: sciatica, neurogenic claudication) 6 weeks to 12 months post-onset; or,
  • Unmanageable recurrent/episodic low back pain and/or related symptoms of less than 12 months post-recurrence.

What happens during an assessment?

  • The assessor will take the time to perform a thorough history and physical examination of your condition. You will be provided with an explanation as to the probable causes of your low back and low back related leg symptoms.
  • You will be provided with a self-management plan to better manage your pain, improve your mobility as well as your overall function. Certain patients may be advised to seek out additional services (e.g., exercise rehabilitation, manual therapy) from a community health care provider as these services are not provided by this program.
  • Patients who are possible surgical candidates will be provided with access to spine specialists and diagnostic imaging (X-ray, MRI) as required. Working closely with local spine surgeons, the Spine Practice Lead is located at the Scarborough Health Network.
  • If you require further surgical assessment, you will be offered the next available appointment or have the option to choose an appointment with your preferred surgeon.  

Will my Primary Care Provider be informed about my assessment?

Your Primary Care Provider will be sent a consultation note that summarizes your assessment results, your self-management plan and next steps, including any required follow-up appointments. For some patients, the Assessor may contact your Primary Care Provider directly to discuss the assessment.

What do I need to do before my appointment?

To optimize your time with your Assessor, please download and complete the Patient Intake Form prior to your first appointment at A paper copy will also be made available for you at the Rapid Access Clinic upon arrival if needed.


    What is Self-Management?

    Living with low back pain can be challenging and can affect your day-to-day life and how you see and feel about yourself. Self-management refers to a person’s ability to manage their daily tasks while living with one or more ongoing health conditions.  It involves gaining confidence, knowledge and skills to manage physical, social, and emotional aspects of life while living with chronic conditions. Examples of self-management activities include:

    • increasing physical activity
    • healthy eating
    • managing pain and fatigue
    • managing stress
    • understanding emotions
    • communication skills
    • working effectively with health care professionals 

    To learn more about workshops for people with health conditions and/for caregivers, visit the Central East LHIN Self-Management Program website at

    What is Osteoarthritis?

    Osteoarthritis (OA) refers to inflammation of the joints. Bone tissue near the joint cartilage is also affected.

    What causes osteoarthritis? In some people, the normal process of continuous repair in the joints is disrupted. There are a variety of reasons for this, such as a problem with the repair process itself or severe wear and tear in the joints. The following factors may increase the risk of OA:

    • Age. Increasing age increases the chance of OA
    • Genetics. Some people may be more at risk if they have family members with OA
    • Increased body weight. People with obesity are more likely to develop hip and knee OA
    • Being female. There is an increased chance of developing OA in women than men
    • Prior joint injury, damage or deformity.
    • Occupational overuse of a joint. 

    Typical symptoms include joint pain and a reduced range of motion in the joint. Joint stiffness which is worse in the mornings may occur and an affected joint may look larger than normal.

    If you struggle with osteoarthritis, ask your PCP about the MSK Central Intake and RACs model to see if this is a good option for you.

    Osteoarthritis Resources
    Arthritis Society:
    Inter-professional Spine Assessment and Education Clinics (ISAEC):

    Contact Information

    If you have any questions or concerns regarding Transforming MSK Care, please feel free to contact the Central East LHIN.

    For questions related to patient scheduling or assessments, please contact the RAC directly. Note, if a referral has been sent to Central Intake, please allow a few business days before the RAC can begin patient scheduling.

    For any other general questions about the MSK pathway, please contact Benjamin McNamee at 1-866-804-5446 (Toll-Free) or 1-877-743-7939 (TTY) ext. 3201 or at