Ronald Donelson, MD, MS's portrait
Ronald Donelson, MD, MS
President
SelfCare First, LLC
Hanover, NH

About Ronald Donelson, MD, MS

Ronald Donelson, MD, MS is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who specialized in non-operative spine care for 20 years, first in private practice and then in academia at The Institute for Spine Care at the State University of New York in Syracuse.

He was granted the Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy in 1991 and completed a Master of Science program in 1998 at the Dartmouth Medical School for Evaluative Clinical Sciences in New Hampshire. He is currently President of SelfCare First, a consulting, publishing, and low back pain disease management company.

His numerous research publications have focused on the assessment, classification, and non-operative treatment of neck and low back pain. He has also written many chapters, review articles, scientific abstracts, and posters, and he has presented more than 100 research papers, conference workshops, courses, and symposia in more than 15 countries. He authored the book Rapidly Reversible Back Pain, published in 2007.

Dr. Donelson is an Advisory Editor with the journal Spine, an active member of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, the North American Spine Society, has been active with the International Forum for Primary Care Research in Low Back Pain, and is currently Vice President of the American Back Society.

Contact Dr. Donelson.

Publications

Books:


1. Donelson R. Rapidly Reversible Low Back Pain: an Evidence-based Pathway to Widespread Recoveries and Savings. Hanover, NH: SelfCare First, LLC, 2007.

Book Chapters:

1. Donelson R. Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, in The Lumbar Intervertebral Disc, Eds: Phillips F, Lauryssen C, New York, NY: Thieme Medical, 2008.

2. Heffner S, McKenzie R, Donelson, R. McKenzie Protocols for Mechanical Assessment of the Low Back. Chapter 15, in Low Back Syndromes: Integrated Clinical Management, Ed. Craig Morris, New York, NY, McGraw-Hill, 2006.

3. Donelson RG, McKenzie RA. Mechanical Assessment and Treatment of Spinal Pain. Chapter 87, The Adult Spine: Principles and Practice. Ed: J Frymoyer, Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 1996.

4. Donelson RG, McKenzie RA: Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy for Low Back Pain: Toward a Better Understanding. Chapter 17, The Lumbar Spine (2nd Edition). Ed. S Weisel, W.B. Saunders Company, 1996.

5. Masten TD, Donelson RG: The McKenzie Approach to Patient Classification: A Physician's Perspective; Orthopedic Physical Therapy Clinics of North America, 193-208, June 1995.

6. Donelson RG, McKenzie RA: Mechanical Assessment and Treatment of Spinal Pain. Chapter 76, The Adult Spine: Principles and Practice. Ed: J Frymoyer, Raven Press, 1991.

7. Donelson R: Conservative Care of the Low Back: The McKenzie Approach, Chapter in: Conservative Care of Low Back Pain, eds: AH White, R Anderson; pp 97-105, Williams & Wilkins Publishers, 1990.

Peer-Review Publications:

1. Dionne C, Herbowy S, Miller M, Smith S, Donelson R: Effect of REPEX in Patients with Low Back Pain. Manuelle Therapie, 8:3-9, 2004.

2. Long A, Donelson R, Fung T: Does it Matter Which Exercise? A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise for Low Back Pain. Spine 29:2593-2602, 2004.

3. Udermann B, Mayer J, Donelson R, Graves J., Murray S: Combining Lumbar Extension Training with McKenzie Therapy: Effects on Pain, Disability, and Psychosocial Functioning in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients. Gundersen Lutheran Medical Journal 3:7-12, 2004.

4. Udermann B, Spratt K, Donelson R, Mayer J, Graves J, Tillotson J. Can a Patient Educational Book Change Behavior and Reduce Pain in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients? The Spine Journal, 4:425-35, 2004.

5. Marley J, Donelson R: Case Study of the Month: Management of Acute Sciatica and Lateral List. SpineLine, North American Spine Society, July 2003.

6. Wetzel T, Donelson R: The Role of Mechanical Assessment in the Management of Symptomatic Lumbar Discs. The Spine Journal, 3:146-154, 2003.

7. Mayer T, Polatin P, Smith B, Gatchel R, Fardon D, Herring S, Smith C, Donelson R, Wong D: Spine Rehabilitation: Secondary and Tertiary Nonoperative Care. The Spine Journal, 3(3S): 28S-36S, 2003.

8. Ordway N, Seymour R, Donelson R, Hojnowski L, Edwards WT: Cervical Flexion, Extension, Protrusion and Retraction. A Radiographic Segmental Analysis. Spine 24:240-7, 1999.

9. Donelson R, Aprill CA, Medcalf R, Grant W: A Prospective Study of Centralization of Lumbar and Referred Pain: a Predictor of Symptomatic Discs and Anular Competence. Spine 22:11122, 1997.

10. Ordway N, Seymour R, Donelson R, Hojnowski L, Lee E, Edwards WT: Cervical Sagittal Range-Of-Motion Analysis Using Three Methods: Cervical Range-Of-Motion Device, 3-Space, and Radiography. Spine 22:501-8, 1997.

11. Trief PM, Donelson RG: The Potential Impact of the Workers Compensation System on Quality of Life Outcomes: a Clinical Analysis. J Occupational Rehab. 5:185-193, 1995.

12. Mayer TG, Polatin P, Smith B, Smith C, Gatchel R, Herring SA, Hall H, Donelson RG, Dickey J, English W: Contemporary Concepts in Spine Care: Spine Rehabilitation, Secondary and Tertiary Nonoperative Care. Spine 20:2060-2068, 1995.

13. Rosenbaum AE, Yu S, Szeverenyi N, Yuan HA, Donelson RG, Mills CM, Fredrickson B: MR Discography: a Comparison with CT Discography and Cryomicrotome. Neuroradiology 33[Suppl]:5-7, 1991.

14. Donelson R, Grant W, et.al.: Pain Response to Sagittal End-Range Spinal Motion: A Multi-Centered, Prospective, Randomized Trial. Spine 16:S206-212, 1991.

15. Donelson R, Silva G, Murphy K: Centralization Phenomenon: Its Usefulness in Evaluating and Treating Referred Pain, Spine 15:211-213, 1990.

16. Donelson R, Tomaiuoli M: Intra-Articular Dislocation of the Patella, J Bone and Joint Surgery, 61-A, 1979.

Invited Publications:

1. Donelson R. Is Your Client's Back Pain "Rapidly Reversible"? Improving Low Back Care at its Foundation. Professional Case Management 13:87-96, 2008.

2. May S, Donelson R. Evidence-Informed Management of Chronic Low Back Pain with the McKenzie Method. The Spine Journal 8:134-41, 2008.

3. Donelson R, Sahrmann S, Prather H: Therapeutic Exercise: Which Method is Best for Lumbar Radiculopathy? SpineLine, North American Spine Society, ISSN 1531-4111, Burr Ridge, IL, 15-21, March- April, 2007.

4. Managing Low Back Pain: The Initial Evaluation. The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. 455-62, September 2004.

5. Evidence-Based Low Back Pain Classification: Improving Care at its Foundation. Europa Medicophysica 40:37-40, 2004.

6. Guest Editorial: The Natural History of Low Back Pain. The American Back Society Newsletter, p.5, 2002.

7. Die McKenzie Methode fur diegGehandlung von Ruckenschmerzen, Teil 1: Mechanishe Untersuchung und Classifizierung, Manuelle Medizin, 39:337-343, 2001.

8. Die McKenzie Methode fur diegGehandlung von Ruckenschmerzen, Teil 2: Reliabilitat, Diagnostiische Fahigkeit und Behandlungsergebnisse, Manuelle Medizin, 39:344-50, 2001.

9. McKenzie Methods of Care for Mechanical Low Back Pain: Part 1: Mechanical Assessment and Classification, M?decine Orthop?dique, April 2000.

10. McKenzie Methods of Care for Mechanical Low Back Pain: Part 2: Assessment Reliability, Diagnostic Power, and Treatment Outcomes, M?decine Orthop?dique, April 2000.

11. Mechanical Assessment of Low Back Pain. J. of Musculoskeletal Medicine, May 1998.

12. Point of View. A review of: Long A: The Centralization Phenomenon: its Usefulness as a Predictor of Outcome in Conservative Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain. Spine 20, 1995.

13. Point of View. A review of: Pearson ND, Walmsley RP: Trial Into the Effects of Repeated Neck Retractions in Normal Subjects. Spine 20(11):1245-1251, 1995.

14. Donelson R: Identifying Appropriate Exercises for Your Low Back Pain Patient. J. of Musculoskeletal Medicine, December 1991.

15. Donelson R: The McKenzie Approach to Evaluating and Treating Low Back Pain. Ortho Rev:19(8), pp 681-686, 1990.

Letters-To-The-Editor:

1. Donelson R. Evidence-Based Low Back Care? British Medical Journal 332:0-a, 2007.

2. Donelson R. Letter-to-the-Editor re. Bouter L, Pennick V, Bombardier C. Cochrane Back Review Group, Spine 28:1215-8, 2003. Spine 595-6, 2004.

3. Donelson R. Letter-to-the-Editor re. Re: Koes B, van Tulder M, Ostelo R, et al. Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Low Back Pain in Primary Care: An International Comparison, Spine 26:2504- 14, 2001. Spine 27:1590-1, 2002.

4. Donelson RG: Letter to the Editor re. van Tulder M, Malmivaara A, Esmail R, et al. Exercise Therapy for Low Back Pain, Spine 25(21):2784-96, 2000; Spine 26(16):1827-9, 2001.

5. Donelson R, Letter to the Editor: The Reliability of Centralized Pain Response. Arch Phys Med Rehab 81: 999-1000, 2000.

6. Donelson RG: Letter to the Editor re. Razmjou, et. al., Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 30(7):368-83, 2000. JOSPT 30(12):770-3, 2000.

7. Donelson RG, McKenzie RA: Letter to the Editor re. Riddle and Rothstein, Spine 19(12):1414, 1994.

8. Donelson RG: Letter to the editor: re. Elnaggar, et.al, Spine 16:967-972, 1991. Spine 17:1267-1268, 1992.

9. Donelson RG: Letter to the editor. Spine 16:1008-1009, 1991.

Manuscripts in Progress:

1. Fritz J, Donelson R, Laslett M, Sherman K, Parent E: Customizing Treatments to Sub-Groups of Patients: Current Paradigms for Improving Patient Care and Clinical Research. Submitted.

2. Long, A, Donelson, R, Fung, T: Is it Always Necessary to Differentiate Acute from Chronic and Common Low Back Pain From Sciatica?

Peer-Review Research Presentations:

1. Long A, Donelson R, Fung T, Spratt K: Acute or Chronic Back Pain or Sciatica with Neural Deficit: is Differentiation Always Necessary? North American Spine Society annual meeting, Austin, TX, October 2007.

2. Long A, Donelson R, Fung T: Does it Matter Which Exercise? A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise for Low Back Pain. North American Spine Society annual meeting, Chicago, IL, October, 2004.

3. Long A, Donelson R, Fung T: Does it matter which exercise? A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise for Low Back Pain. The World Conference for Family Doctors. Orlando, FL, October, 2004.

4. Long A, Donelson R, Fung T: Does it Matter Which Exercise? A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise for Low Back Pain. The International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Porto, Portugal, June 2004.

5. Long A, Donelson R, Fung T: Does it Matter Which Exercise? A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise for Low Back Pain. International Forum for Primary Care Research in Low Back Pain, Linkoping, Sweden, May 2003.

6. Uderman B, Tillotson J, Donelson R, Mayer J, Graves J. Can an Educational Booklet Change Behavior and Pain in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients? in International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine. Adelaide, Australia, 2000.

7. Donelson R, Grant W, Kamps C, Richman P: Cervical and Referred Pain Response to Repeated End-Range Testing: a Prospective, Randomized Trial. North American Spine Society, New York, NY, September 24, 1997.

8. Trief P, Donelson R, Grant W, Rath W: Predicting Outcome Using Functional Status Measures, International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Burlington, Vermont, June 17, 1996.

9. Donelson R, Aprill CA, Medcalf R, Grant W: A Prospective Study of Centralization of Lumbar and Referred Pain: A Predictor of Symptomatic Discs and Anular Competence. International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Burlington, Vermont, June 16, 1996.

10. Donelson R, Aprill CA, Medcalf R, Grant W: A Prospective Study of Centralization of Lumbar and Referred Pain: A Predictor of Symptomatic Discs and Anular Competence. Alumni Day of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Syracuse, NY June 14, 1996.

11. Medcalf R, Aprill CA, Donelson R, Grant W, Incorvaia C: Discographic Outcomes Predicted by Centralization and Directional Preference - A Prospective, Blinded Study; International Interdisciplinary Congress on Low Back Pain, La Jolla, CA, November, 1995.

12. Medcalf R, Aprill CA, Donelson R, Grant W, Incorvaia C: Discographic Outcomes Predicted by Centralization and Directional Preference - A Prospective, Blinded Study; Annual meeting of the North American Spine Society, Washington, D.C., October 19, 1995.

13. Aprill C, Medcalf R, Donelson R, Grant W, Incorvaia C: Discographic Outcomes Predicted by Centralization and Directional Preference - A Prospective, Blinded Study; Second Educational Update of the McKenzie Institute, U.S.A., Minneapolis, MN, July 16, 1995.

14. Aprill C, Medcalf R, Donelson R, Grant W, Incorvaia C: Discographic Outcomes Predicted by Centralization and Directional Preference - A Prospective, Blinded Study; Annual meeting of the International Intradiscal Therapy Society, San Diego, CA, March 16-18, 1995.

15. Wetzel FT, Poole R, Lahey DM, Robbins R, Donelson RG: Degenerative Disc Disease Algorithm. Keystone Spine Conference, Keystone, Colorado, January 1994.

16. Discographic Outcomes Predicted by Centralization and Directional Preference - A Prospective, Blinded Study, American Back Society, Los Angeles, CA, December 1, 1994.

17. Donelson R, Grant W, Kamps C, Richman P: Clinical Analysis of Symptom Response to Sagittal End-Range Cervical Test Movements. Cervical Spine Research Society, New York, NY, December 2-4, 1993.

18. Donelson R, Grant W, Kamps C, Richman P: Clinical Analysis of Symptom Response to Sagittal End-Range Cervical Test Movements. Third International McKenzie Conference, Toronto, Canada, September, 1993.

19. Donelson R, Ordway N, Seymour R, Hojnowski L: A Radiographic, Analysis of Segmental Range of Motion in Sagittal Head/Neck Positioning. Third International McKenzie Conference, Toronto, Canada, September, 1993.

20. Ordway NR,Edwards WT, Donelson RG, Bosco M: The Effect of Head Position on 3-D Analysis of Cervical Motion. ASTM Symposium on Head and Neck Injuries in Sports, Atlanta, GA, May 1993.

21. Rosenbaum A, Yu S, Yuan H, Fredrickson B, Donelson R, Manzione J, Szeverenyi N: MR Discography Challenging the Gold Standard of CT Discography. Read by title at the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Chicago, May 1992.

22. Donelson R, Grant W, et.al.: Pain Response to End-Range Spinal Motion in the Frontal Plane: A Multi-Centered, Prospective Trial. Presented at the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Heidelberg, Germany, May 1991.

23. Donelson R, Grant W, et.al.: Pain Response to Sagittal End-Range Spinal Motion: A Multi-Centered, Prospective, Randomized Trial. Presented at Federation of Spine Associations annual meeting, Anaheim, CA, March 1991.

24. Donelson R, Grant W, et.al.: Pain Response to Sagittal End-Range Spinal Motion: A Multi-Centered, Prospective, Randomized Trial. Presented at annual meeting of the North American Spine Society, Monterey, California, August 1990.

25. Donelson R, Rath W: Analysis and Significance of Acute Lumbar Scoliosis in Low Back Pain Patients. Read by title at the annual meeting of The International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Rome, Italy 1987.

26. Fredrickson B, Murphy K, Donelson R, Yuan H: McKenzie Treatment of Low Back Pain, A Correlation of Significant Factors: in Determining Prognosis. Presented at the annual meeting of The International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Dallas, Texas, 1986.

27. Donelson R, Silva G, Murphy K: Centralization Phenomenon: Its Usefulness in Evaluating and Treating Sciatica. Presented at the annual meeting of The International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Dallas, Texas, 1986.

Poster Presentations:

1. Long A, Donelson R, Spratt K, Fung T: Acute or Chronic Back Pain or Sciatica with Neural Deficit: is Differentiation Always Necessary? International Society of the Study of the Lumbar Spine. Hong Kong, China, June 2007.

2. Long A, Donelson R, Fung T: Do acute and chronic and common low back pain and sciatica have more important similarities than differences? International Society of the Study of the Lumbar Spine. New York City, NY, May 2005.

3. Donelson R: Evidence for Non-Sciatica Disc-Related and Non-Disc Low Back Pain Subgroups. At the Sixth International Forum for Primary Care Research in Low Back Pain in Linkoping, Sweden, May, 2003.

4. Donelson, R: Do Meaningful Low Back Pain Subgroups Exist and How Can They be Identified? At the McKenzie Institute North American Conference, Tucson, Arizona, August 2002.

5. Donelson, R: Do Meaningful Low Back Pain Subgroups Exist and How Can They be Identified? At the Fifth International Forum for Primary Care Research in Low Back Pain in Montreal, Quebec, May, 2002.

6. Udermann B, Spratt K, Donelson R, Tillotson J, Mayer J, Graves J. Can an Educational Booklet Change Behavior and Pain in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients? at the Seventh McKenzie Institute International Conference, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 2001.

7. Udermann B, Spratt K, Donelson R, Tillotson J, Mayer J, Graves J. Can an Educational Booklet Change Behavior and Pain in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients? at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 2001.

8. Donelson R, Plante D, Likosky DS, Orgren R, Lindstrom U: The Low Back Pain Experience: A Natural History Survey. The Dartmouth/Northern New England Primary Care Cooperative Research Network annual meeting, The Balsams, NH, January, 2001.

9. Aprill C, Medcalf R, Donelson R, Grant W, Incorvaia K: Discographic Outcomes Predicted by the Centralization of Pain and "Directional Preference": A Prospective, Blinded Study. Ninth Annual Charles R.

10. Ross, Ph.D. Research Poster Session, State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse, December 6-7, 1995.

11. Aprill C, Medcalf R, Donelson R, Grant W, Incorvaia K: Discographic Outcomes Predicted by the Centralization of Pain and "Directional Preference": A Prospective, Blinded Study. Second McKenzie Institute, U.S.A. Educational Update, Minneapolis, MN, July 15-16, 1995.

12. Aprill C, Medcalf R, Donelson R, Grant W, Incorvaia K: Discographic Outcomes Predicted by the Centralization of Pain and "Directional Preference": A Prospective, Blinded Study. Annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Helsinki, Finland, June 1995.

13. Donelson R, Ordway N, Seymour R, Hojnowski L: A Radiographic, Analysis of Segmental Range of Motion in Sagittal Head/Neck Positioning. World Congress of Physical Therapy, Washington, D.C. June 1995.

14. Donelson R, Ordway N, Seymour R, Hojnowski L: A Radiographic, Analysis of Segmental Range of Motion in Sagittal Head/Neck Positioning. North American Spine Society, Minneapolis, MN, October 1994.

15. Donelson R, Ordway N, Seymour R, Hojnowski L: A Radiographic, Analysis of Segmental Range of Motion in Sagittal Head/Neck Positioning. Annual Alumni Day, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, SUNY at Syracuse, NY, June 1994.

16. Yu FS, Rosenbaum AE, Zhang J, Fredrickson BE, Donelson RG: The Role of Enhanced MRI in Diagnosing Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease. Combined meeting of North American Spine and Japanese Spine Research Societies, Maui, Hawaii, April 1994.

17. Donelson R, Ordway N, Seymour R, Hojnowski L: A Radiographic, Analysis of Segmental Range of Motion in Sagittal Head/Neck Positioning. Cervical Spine Research Society annual meeting, New York, NY, December 2-4, 1993.

18. Donelson R, Grant W, et.al.: Pain Response to End-Range Spinal Motion in the Frontal Plane: A Multi- Centered, Prospective Trial. Annual meeting of the North American Spine Society, Keystone, Colorado, August 1991.

19. Donelson R, Grant W, et.al.: Pain Response to Sagittal End-Range Spinal Motion: A Multi-Centered, Prospective, Randomized Trial. Poster Day, SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse, November 1990.

20. Donelson R, Grant W, et.al.: Pain Response to Sagittal End-Range Spinal Motion: A Multi-Centered, Prospective, Randomized Trial. International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Boston, MA, June, 1990.

Articles Written by Ronald Donelson, MD, MS

Benefits of the McKenzie Method

The McKenzie Method has one major benefit: patients can learn self-care techniques that can reverse their back pain and prevent further painful episodes. Learn the other benefits in this article by a McKenzie clinician.

The Importance of Performing Test Movements Repeatedly in the McKenzie Evaulation

In a McKenzie examination, you'll do multiple end-range movements: e.g., arching your back as far as you can. This is to try to find your directional preference-- the movement direction that relieves pain. It's the first step in the McKenzie Method.

The Origin of the McKenzie Method

The McKenzie Method was created by Robin McKenzie. Get the full story of how he developed this back pain treatment option, which he discovered by accident.

Rapidly Reversible Low Back Pain and the McKenzie Method

Dr. Donelson believes some forms of back pain are rapidly reversible-- you can relieve your pain with the McKenzie Method. He explains how and who benefits most from McKenzie.

Financial Disclosures

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