Spine Online

Introducing the Spine Online Course for primary care providers. Developed by the Centre for Effective Practice (CEP) and funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), as part of the Knowledge Translation in Primary Care Initiative, this course aims to familiarize primary care providers with current guidelines for evidence-based assessment and treatment of patients with low back and/or neck pain. The CORE Back and CORE Neck Tools are incorporated into the course so you can easily translate this knowledge into practice and use them to maintain and re-frame your practice care pathways.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) care consumes approximately 40 percent of primary care visits, and back and neck pain make up the greatest subset of conditions. Yet, most practitioners have not been well prepared to assess or treat musculoskeletal conditions through their pre-license training. This gap in practice knowledge has created a need for education, tools and resources aimed at improving patient outcomes, and decreasing chronicity and long-term disability. The MOHLTC began work on Low Back pain in 2012, which lead to the development of the CORE Back Tool, patient and provider education resources and the Interprofessional Spine Assessment and Education Centres (ISAEC) pilot project. Through the success of these initiatives, province-wide MSK Rapid Assessment Clinics (MSK-RAC’s) are launching, which will focus on low back pain as an evolution of the ISAEC pilot projects as well as osteoarthritis.

Spine Online’s goal is to enhance the capacity of primary care providers to manage patients with acute and chronic low back and/or neck pain. We hope that by the end of the course, you will be able to identify mechanical pain through a high yield history and focused physical examination. The course will help professionals list the appropriate investigations and referrals for patients and most importantly, describe evidence-based treatment that can be initiated in the office through open discussion and active goal setting.

What can you expect from Spine Online?

  • Interesting and relevant content
  • Interactive cases and knowledge testing
  • Monitored discussion boards by subject experts
  • Practice-friendly resources and tools
  • Videos to demonstrate clinical skills
  • Practice implementation advice and discussion

Welcome to Spine Online, we hope you enjoy the modules!


This Self-Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 4 Mainpro+ credits.

Module Overview

For each module, participants will be asked to complete a pre-course survey that will be repeated at the end of the course. This is very important to meet our certification criteria and to better understand the needs and skills of our learners.

Each module will contain the following sections:

  • Guidelines & Provincial Updates
  • Assessment: History and Physical Examination
  • Evidence Based Management
  • Practice Tools and Resources

Each module will take approximately two hours to complete and you can start and stop it as needed to plan your time and activity.

In the modules, you will have an opportunity to post discussion questions and comments. The interactive board will be monitored by a subject matter expert who can help you apply your learning to practice. This is meant to be a forum for questions to deepen learning opportunities and not a clinical case review or consultation.

The modules are broken into four components with an average of 30 minutes to complete each section. You may start and stop the course as required by your daily commitments.

How to Navigate the Course

Spine Online contains two modules

  • Spine Online: Low Back Module
  • Spine Online: Neck Module

You can choose to take either one or both courses for accreditation. Access them from the bottom of this page (the landing page; see below), or, once you have enrolled in the course(s) under “My Courses” in the left hand NAVIGATION block. Below, you can click on the title of the module title and view the top level overview, or go directly to the section where you are working.

Once you are inside the courses, there are breadcrumbs at the top of each page to help you keep track of where you are and to help you navigate back up a level if need be.

TIP: If you are having technical or administrative issues within the course, click one of the ASK! buttons that are distributed throughout to send an email. If you have encountered a server error, please tell us what the problem is, the text of the error message, as well as the time when it occurred.

Each module is broken down into sections indicated by a separator line, and each section contains a set of activities/information that comprise the module. The type of module is indicated by the icon to the left of it.

Reading material is identified by this icon:

Multi-part reading material is identified by this icon:

External links, by this icon:

Quizzes, by this icon:

Surveys, by this icon: Icon: giving feedback

At any time you can access the Spine Online Discussion Forum from the link at the top of each module, or within each section.