Dr. Andrew Arnold talks about spinal-back pain and how you can navigate the symptoms and signs.
Let me start by asking you a question?
- Do you have other symptoms associated with your back pain?
- Are you struggling to get clear on what it all means?
- Are you feeling anxious not knowing the full picture?
- Don’t know what to do next?
These are questions I hear all the time from my patients which does little to empower you to take charge and manage your condition.
So let’s step this thru by first talking about RED flags Vs YELLOW flags.
RED flags are alarm bells. These often require urgent attention and management:
- Numbness affecting both soles of your feet
- Weakness affecting one or both sides, upper or lower limbs
- Numbness under your bottom (the part that’s in contact with bike seat)
- Change in bowel and urination habit, i.e. urge but nothing happening or loss of control.
- Extreme, incapacitating pain (you can’t leave the house)
- Loss of reflexes
YELLOW flags, on the other hand, are not as urgent:
- General pain
- Pins and Needles – local or referred
- Increased reflexes
- Spinal distortion
What’s important is to know which category you are falling into and then move from there. RED flags can sometimes be managed with conservative physical therapies such as Chiropractic however, it may also be recommended to book a time to see a Neurosurgeon for a 2nd opinion. I often recommend, in addition, to plan film x-ray, getting an MRI. An MRI will show the condition of the disc and this is impacting the cord and nerves.
YELLOW flags generally do not require CT or MRI referral and can be managed well by your Chiropractor even though you may be in a lot of pain. Cramped muscles occur usually to protect you from further injury even though they can be very painful. So don’t be overly alarmed with the pain this can bring.
So use this checklist next time you have back pain and make sure you feel confident your Chiro is able to manage your condition.
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is the Principal Chiropractor and owner, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, married to Dr. Linda Wilson, the Stress Specialist and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.