Category: MSK

Lower Back Pain: Red & Yellow Flags

Each year 1:15 of the adult population will seek medical help for Lower Back Pain, that is 2.6 million patients in the UK. Most Lower Back Pain is not serious and will revolve within 8 weeks, with analgesia and self physio.

However, this is not the case for some. This may be due to serious underlying pathology ‘RED Flags‘, or psychological factors that indicate chronicity ‘Yellow Flags‘.

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Silver Trauma

The population is ageing and thus our ‘typical’ trauma patient is also changing. In 2017 the TARN report “Major injury in older people” highlighted the following issues:

  • The typical major trauma patient: has changed from a young and male to being an older patient.
  • Older Major Trauma Patients (ISS>15): A fall of <2m is the commonest mechanism of injury
  • Triage/Recognition of ‘Silver Trauma’ is POOR
    • Pre-hospital: Not identified hence taken to TU’s (Here) not MTC’s (Leeds).
    • The ED: Often seen by Junior Staff and endure significant treatment delays.
    • Hospital: Much less likely to be transferred to specialist care.
    • Outcomes: More likely to die, but those who survive have similar levels of disability to younger people.

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TXA – Tranexamic Acid

TXA a bleeding wonder drug!

Crash 2 Study (2010)

  • Multi-Centre RCT of the use of TXA in trauma
  • Inclusion – Adult trauma patients with ≥1 of
    • Suspicion of significant haemorrhage
    • HR ≥110bpm
    • sBP ≤90mmHg
  • Treatment – 1g TXA IV over 10min then a second 1g TXA IV over 8hrs
  • Outcome – Significant reduction in Death, bleeding with NO increase in clots(thrombotic disease)
    • Most benefit seen if given early (<3hr – NNT 53)

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Haematoma Block – Colles’

Haematoma blocks can be a safe and effect method of pain relief to facilitate reducing Colles’ fractures.

What to give?

  • 1% Lidocaine
    • Onset 10-15min
    • Offset up to 2hr
  • 3mg/kg (maximum dose)
    • 70kg patient could have up to 210mg
  • Volume 1% Lidocaine = 10mg/ml 
    • 70kg = 210mg / 10 = 21ml
  • Signs of TOXICITY 
    • Sensory Disturbance: Facial tingling,  Numbness, Metallic taste, Tinnitus, Vertigo
    • Functional Disturbance: Slurred speech, Seizures, Reduced GCS
    • Cardiovascular: Hypotension, Palpitations
    • Treatment – ABCD, see LA-Toxicity [HERE]


Remember you are putting a needle into a sterile fracture and bone infection never ends well.

  • Chloro prep or Betadine – ensure it has time to dry
  • Sterile field
  • Sterile Gloves (particularly when learning)
  • No-Touch technique (Only if proficient)


a. Insertion

  • Find fracture site – move approx. 1cm proximally
  • Insert needle – bevel down & at approx. 30°, towards the fracture
  • Hit bone & slide – forward into the fracture
  • Aspirate – you should be able to aspirate some blood, but not always (however, its should not flow too easily, if it does are you in a vessel?)
  • Inject –  this often needs a bit of pressure, infiltrate approx. 1/4 of the volume.

b. Fanning (this is not always necessary but seems to improve outcome)

  • Withdrawal needle a little – keeping it under the skin.
  • Change angle & advance – into the fracture
  • Aspirate and Infiltrate – more lidocaine
  • Repeat – do this several times so you have walked needle across the fracture (Use approx. 1/2 the lidocaine)

c. Ulna styloid (Only needed if fracture or tender)

  • Find Ulna styloid
  • Insert needle – straight onto the styloid
  • Aspirate
  • Inject – you are not normally going into the fracture but leaving a bolus approx.1/4

Give the patient 10-15min while you set up for reduction for it to achieve peak effect –  then check how its working. (getting the patine to move their wrist is a good test)


ENP’s – DOP’s forms can be found here