Have you ever hurt your back and wondered if this is a serious issue that needs attention or something that will pass in a few days? If you need attention, how soon is necessary and who should you see? Here are a few signs to help you answer those questions.


If you experience any of these symptoms, please go see a Chiropractor ASAP. These are considered red flags:

  • Audible “pop”
  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Sharp/stabbing pain
  • Pain traveling/shooting
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Very limited motion
  • Can’t stand up straight
  • No comfortable position
  • Unable to control your bowels/bladder ( this is a Medical emergency)
  • Shooting pain into both legs below the knee
  • Unable to walk on heels/ toes due to pain or weakness.

If you have a red flag it could mean that you have done some structural damage to the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons or nerves in your body. Urgency is important because the earlier you receive the correct treatment the higher that chance you will heal (or wound repair) with all of your function intact. The worst thing you can do in this case is push through a problem like this. Also, do not cover your symptoms up with medication.


These next set of symptoms are what I would consider yellow flags. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it means that you should need to see a chiropractor, but it isn’t as urgent as the red flag symptoms:

  • Slow onset
  • Soreness with some “pinching”
  • Pain with only one movement
  • Able to “push through” the pain
  • Pain with trying to sleep
  • Stretching only helps a little
  • Pain lasts more than 3 days

The yellow flags represent a dysfunctional condition that can cause pain but may not be from structural damage. If you have one of these you should stop your activity until you understand the cause your symptoms. In my practice I often see the red flags after yellow flags were ignored.


Finally, these are the green flags. If you have these symptoms, it most likely means you didn’t seriously hurt yourself, and you shouldn’t need to see a doctor:

  • Onset the following 1-2 days
  • Only sore or stiff
  • No limit to movement
  • No interruption of sleep
  • Stretching helps
  • Resolves by day 3

The green flags usually are just there results of exercise. If you get these often it may be due to lack of flexibility.

If you feel you fall within the red or yellow flags, South Lake Wellness & Injury Center has the tools needed to diagnose your pain. Click here to schedule an appointment online.

***Please be advised that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or chiropractic advice. Always consult a chiropractor with any questions.