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When is lower back pain a sign of something serious?

April 30, 2014

Drs. VenkateshThiruganasambandamoorthy and Ian Stiell have published a paper in The Journal of Emergency Medicine that identifies risk factors for non-traumatic lower back pain of patients who come into Emergency Departments. Lower back pain can be a symptom of serious conditions, such as internal bleeding, cancer, fractures, or slipped discs. The study involved 329 patients and identified four risk factors: use of blood thinners, decreased sensation on examination, pain that is worse at night and pain that is persistent despite proper treatment. These risk factors identified serious problems with 91% sensitivity. More studies are required to develop a clinical decision tool. The study can be read here.

Funders: Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, University of Ottawa Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

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