As a Chiropractor, I treat a number of people because of back pain. I have a number of patients who come in figuring they have typical lower back pain (disc derrangement, facet syndrome, sciatica, mechanical lower back pain) and most times they are correct. But there are those situations where it isn’t typical. One of the atypical situations that I have seen is lower back pain due to cancer. Though this is a rare occurence (about 1% of all back pain), and this post isn’t meant to scare you if you have back pain, early recognition of cancer is crucial for your future health.
In healthcare, the term Red Flags are key parts of a history/examination that puts the chiroprator, athletic therapist or any other healthcare professional on high alert. In the case of cancer, the following are red flags when you have back pain.
- History of cancer
- Unexplained weight loss >10 kg within 6 months
- Age over 50 years or under 17 years old
- Failure to improve with therapy
- Pain persists for more than 4 to 6 weeks
- Night pain or pain at rest
Alone, each of these characteristics of back pain may not indiciate cancer but combined they increase the chance that cancer may be the underlying cause of your back pain.
If you are sitting there hoping your back pain will get better on its own and you have several of these Red Flags then you NEED to go see your doctor as soon as possible.
P.S. Patients need to know that when a chiropractor sees a patient for the first time or even if they have been a regular patient , but with a new presentation, a history and examination must be performed. Chiropractors are responsible for diagnosing and referring their patients when appropriate. If you come into my office don’t expect to come in and just be cracked.
Originally posted 2011-11-21 04:37:00.