By Don Williams
B.Sc., M.Chiro., ICSSD., PG Dip. NMS Rehabilitation Cert DNS. Memb: FICS, CEA
Health care practice is an interesting and ever changing profession. One of the challenges that keep us on our toes is the assessment and management of different injuries and ailments.
The first goal in assessment is (or certainly should be) to identify what the complaint is, whether it is a serious or potentially serious condition that requires urgent intervention.
Recently, we have had a number of quite serious cases which have left us a little baffled as to the management they had unfortunately NOT received.
So this month I thought I would write an article on important symptoms to watch out for so you are not feeling sore and sorry.
Red Flags; this is believe it or not, a technical term for signs and symptoms which may indicate serious underlying pathology. These flags are many and varied and their presence is merely a potential indicator of pathology. This means that just because you have a “Red Flag” doesn’t mean you have a problem.
In compiling this list, it is by no means exhaustive and is a reflection of some of the things that we see showing up in our clinic.
So regionally, what are the things you should watch out for and what can they mean?
If you have back pain with referral down the leg, total numbness or loss of muscle strength it may be important. Loss of bowel and bladder control is certainly something we would want to know about.
Most people know that chest pain can be an indicator of a heart attack. Most people realise that this is more commonly on the left side, however, pain in the lower front of the neck, the left arm, the left upper back and the right side of the chest can also be indicators. This would be reinforced by an increase in pain with exercise and or shortness of breath.
Pain that wakes you from sleep is a concern, additionally; if this pain is accompanied by night sweats we would be a little more concerned. Sudden loss or gain in weight for no apparent reason is also a concern.
“The worst headache I have ever had” is not a great thing to hear. If this is in conjunction with vomiting and dizziness it is more of a concern. The feeling that the head is going to explode is more of a concern. Disturbances in any of your higher senses (vision, taste, hearing or smell) can also be a concern
Unremitting pain of 6 months or more of duration may be serious. If this is high intensity pain, then it is more of a concern. If the problem is not responding to conservative treatment then it is more concerning again.
If you have had a problem which won’t go away or you have some interesting symptoms that you are just not sure about, then get them checked out. Sometimes they may mean nothing, sometimes they may be important. My thought, always, if in doubt check it out.