Back pain is one of the most common problems in people today. While in most cases, the pain resolves by itself over a period of time, there are cases when it requires medical attention. There are certain symptoms that could indicate something serious going on such as tumor, infection, or other causes.
The serious symptoms are termed Red Flags, which are symptoms raising suspicion of something going on which could be more serious.

Red Flags That Need Immediate Medical Attention

  • Back pain that could be related to a heart attack

If you have back pain along with chest pain, it could be heart attack and it is very essential to seek emergency medical attention.

  • Back pain that is related to an injury (accident, fall, or direct blow to the spine)
    • Significant trauma.
    • History of osteoporosis.
  • Back pain that could be related to cancer
    • History of cancer
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Age over 55 or under 18 years old
    • No improvement with therapy
    • Persistent pain even after 4-6 weeks
    • Pain at rest and night pain
  • Back pain that could be related to an infection
    • Severe pain.
    • Persistent fever with temperature over 100.4?F.
    • History of IV drug abuse.
    • Spine surgery in the last one year.
    • Recent bacterial infection such as pneumonia, cellulitis, urinary tract infection.
    • Immunocompromised situation such as HIV, organ transplant, etc.
  • Back pain that could mean Cauda Equina syndrome
    • Urinary incontinence or retention.
    • Decrease in anal sphincter tone or fecal incontinence.
    • Bilateral lower extremity weakness or numbness.
    • Major motor weakness or major sensory deficit.
  • Back pain that could be related to Abdominal Aneurysm
    • Age greater than 60 years.
    • Rest pain or nocturnal pain.
    • Atherosclerotic vascular disease.
    • Abdominal pulsating mass.


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