Managing Lower Back as You Age

As we age, most of the parts of our body get weaker and less stiff. These, along with the pains associated with these deficiencies, is indeed part of these aging phase. Most of the older adults encounter pain related to any conditions that also affect younger adults, and people aging 60 and above are more prone to suffer pains relating to bone degeneration especially in the spine part that affects the joints.

Back Pains and Aging

Most of people regardless of age experience back pain problems for various reasons, like having an unhealthy lifestyle, being overweight, vices like smoking and alcohol consumption, imbalanced diet, bone-related complications like spinal diseases, and other health conditions like cancer.  Aside from these, another issue relating to back pain problems is aging.

The spine consists of separate bones called vertebrae placed on top of the other. Between these bones are small joints that enable the whole spine to move, and discs with jelly-like centers that act as shock absorbers and enable the bone to avoid brushing against one another.

When people become older, the spinal discs get a shrink, causing the bones to rub against each other which makes the pain and stiffness. Moreover, the spaces in the spinal cord get narrowed in time. Conditions like spinal stenosis put more pressure both on the spinal cord and nerves that cause more pain. Even the facet joints get degenerated as well.

Some Causes of Lower Back Pain in Older Adults

The complex components of the human back make it capacitated to support the entire body and enable it to move around.

However, problems of any component can result in back pain. Some of the reasons it happens are:

  1. Strain, tension or injury

Stressed muscles or ligaments, muscle spasms, and tensions, damaged spinal discs and injuries are some of the frequent causes of the back pains. These usually stem from improper lifting or something heavier and abrupt movements.

  1. Problems in bone structure

Problems like ruptured and bulging spinal discs, osteoarthritis, abnormal curve of the spine, and osteoporosis are some of the bone structural problems that result in experiencing pain in the lower back.

  1. Posture and movement

Everyday activities can also contribute to the lower back pains that you encounter especially if you are aging. Some of these are twisting, overstretching, awkward bending, standing and sitting for long periods, straining the neck forward, long driving, and sleeping on a mattress that cannot support the body.

Worse Causes of Lower Back Pain in Older Adults

Some conditions can cause low back pain, especially in older adults. Some of these are the following:

Piriformis Syndrome

This is a condition wherein the piriformis muscle which is located at the buttocks experiences spasms and pain in this area. It also irritates the sciatic nerve which can cause pain, numbness, tingling sensation on the back of the leg and foot.

Infections

The infection known as the vertebral osteomyelitis is the infection of the vertebrae in the spine. The infection is transferred and spread via vascular route. The veins located in the lower spine depletes the pelvis, creating a direct route so that the bacteria get into the spine.

Spinal tumor

Spinal tumors can come from the cancer conditions of the patient, which can also affect the components of the spine. Tumors in this area are metastatic, meaning they can spread from one are in the body into the spinal region, causing the pain.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is a type of arthritis that affects the spine and is characterized by inflammation, stiffness, and pain in the joints in the spine. The inflammation results in the fusing of these joints, making the spine more rigid and inflexible.

Symptoms of Lower Back Pain in Older Adults

Generally, the aching feeling in the lower back and sometimes to the buttocks and legs is the main symptom of lower back pain. These pains can subside even without particular treatment, but seeking a doctor must be done if any of the following occurs:

–    Loss of weight

–    Fever

–    Swelling on the back

–    Continual back pain and cannot be helped by resting and lying down

–    Painful sensation on the legs

–    An injury, blow or trauma at the back

–    Hard to urinate

How to Manage the Lower Back Pain in Adults

Halo Health Store recommends the following steps to manage the pains and discomfort in the lower back pain as you age:

  1. Be physically active

Being aged does not mean you have to stop having an active lifestyle. The more active you are, the happier and better your feeling will be. However, carefulness must be your priority when doing exercise and other active routines.

  1. Consider physical therapy

Some physicians will recommend conducting physical therapy sessions depending on your condition and the state of your bone health. Some physical therapy programs to help you gain strength, improve flexibility, posture, and balance.

  1. Take medications, if needed.

Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can stop inflammatory pains.

  1. Apply a cold compress.

Applying ice pack every 20 minutes (then 20 minutes off) as soon as the pain strikes can help painful inflammations or even muscle tension.

  1. Apply hot compress as well.

Two or three days after the cold compress, consider doing hot compress, using a heat pad, and taking warm baths because this can also help muscles to become more relaxed and it also promotes the flow of the blood.

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