Back pain in the elderly.
Back pain in the elderly is a complex chief complaint, because numerous life-threatening or disabling conditions may present with signs and symptoms similar to those of more benign disease processes. An understanding of the limitations of physical examination and history distinguishing dangerous from benign causes is essential to avoid misdiagnosis and patient morbidity or mortality. This article describes the presentation and evaluation of dangerous causes of back pain, including vascular catastrophes, spinal cord compression syndromes, and infectious diseases. Less emergent musculoskeletal injuries are discussed briefly.
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