I've seen some information that says there are certain yellow flags doctors look for in back pain patients. What does this refer to?
Physicians, nurses, and physical therapists are trained to watch for yellow and red flags in back pain patients. Yellow flags are caution signs that suggest the need to test further or look more carefully at what's going on. Red flags are more serious warning signs that immediate action is needed.

When it comes to back pain, yellow and red flags are used in two ways. The health care specialist looks for warning signs of physical involvement. There may be a risk of infection, tumors, or fractures. Accurate diagnosis is needed before treatment can be determined.

Or sometimes the warning flags relate to the psychosocial side of things. Emotional or mental stress may be the cause of the back pain. There may be indicators that if these warnings are not paid attention to, the patient will end up with chronic back pain.

Identifying patients who can benefit from behavioral or psychologic help early on is important. This may prevent them from developing long-term unfavorable results.