In the vast majority of cases, back pain is due to simple mechanical injury to the muscles, joints, ligaments and other tissues that surround the spine. However in approximately 1% of cases, back pain patients have a significant underlying cause.
What are Red Flags?
Red flags are signs and symptoms associated with back pain, which indicate a serious spinal pathology or underlying cause may be present.
- Unexplained weight loss
- History of long-term steroid use
- Previous history of cancer
- Age under 16 or over 50 with new onset of back pain
- Recent serious illness
- Recent serious infection
- Numbness around the groin/saddle area
- Urinary retention
- Urinary incontinence
- Erectile dysfunction
- Changes in bowel function
- Weakness in the hip or knees
- Numbness in the legs
- Spinal deformity
- Non-mechanical back pain i.e the pain is worse at rest and is not necessarily aggravated by movement or position
- Feeling generally unwell
Possible causes of Red Flags with Back Pain
- Spinal cord compression
- Cauda equina syndrome
- Miliary tuberculosis
- Serious infections
- Pathology of bone, blood or connective tissue
- Spinal fracture
The Cause of the Back Pain should be Identified
The majority of information needed will be gained from a detail case history of the presenting complaint and medical history. This should be followed by a postural examination and inspection of the back while moving. Finally appropriate neurological, orthopaedic or cardiovascular examinations will be utilised. In the majority of cases this will supply enough information to make a diagnosis; however if further diagnostic tests are required then your osteopath or other healthcare professional should refer you on for additional testing.
If you have back pain and are concerned about the cause, or you have some of the above sign/symptoms. Then please contact the Enfield Osteopath or Loughton Osteopath clinics as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 612 6212.