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Table 2 Suggested “Red Flags” for Triage of Patients Seeking Nonemergency Care for Neck Pain*

From: Diagnostic imaging for spinal disorders in the elderly: a narrative review

Suggested "Red Flags" Definition
Trauma: Suspected Fragility Fracture Minor or no trauma but decreased bone mass due to osteoporosis or corticosteroid therapy
Tumor/Cancer/Malignancy Previous history of cancer, unexplained weight loss, failure to improve with a month of therapy
Spinal Cord Compromise Cervical myelopathy (where about half of patients with cervical myelopathy have pain in their neck or arms; most have symptoms of arm, leg or, uncommonly, bowel and bladder dysfunction)
Systemic Diseases Ankylosing spondylitis or other inflammatory arthritis
Infections Intravenous drug abuse, urinary tract infection, or skin infection
Pain Intractable pain, tenderness over vertebral body
Prior Medical History Previous neck surgery
  1. * Adapted from Nordin M et al. Assessment of neck pain and its associated disorders: results of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000–2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. Spine 2008,15;33(4 Suppl):S101-22.