What are “red flag” symptoms for those with low back pain?

img_2327What are “red flag” symptoms for those with low back pain?  When a patient presents to the office or hospital with low back pain, we are looking for the “red flag” (or VERY concerning symptoms) because it reveals that there is a more ominous cause.

  • new inability to urinate,
  • progressive loss of strength in the lower legs,
  • urinary incontinence,
  • a recent invasive spinal procedure,
  • progressive sensory loss (of the anus or near genitals),
  • history of cancer,
  • fever.

If red flags are ABSENT, the guidelines are to NOT perform an MRI, CT or x rays within the first 6 weeks of onset of back pain.  Often back pain resolves spontaneously within 6 weeks, so this is the reason for waiting… unless a “red flag” is present.

I hope this helps.

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About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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