Aging is wacky, to say the least. You experience all sorts of new — and not always pleasant — things, like getting laugh lines and gray hair and creaky joints. One thing you may start to notice as you age is persistent back pain. Whether it’s moderate or severe, back pain can seriously put a damper on life.
And you’re not alone if you’re suffering from back pain: About 80% of adults struggle with some form of back pain at some point in their lives.
Luckily, there are some actions you can take to relieve it. Dr. Thomas Jones, II, MD of The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas explains why back pain develops as you get older and shares 3 tips for keeping it at bay.
Why does your back start to hurt as you age?
Think about the rest of your body: The older you get, the more fragile you seem to get all over. The same is true for your back. As you age, your spine goes through changes that make it more delicate and susceptible to pain.
For most people, the first back pain symptoms arise between age 30 and 50, and they keep getting worse from there on out. Most of the time, age-related back pain can be attributed to general degeneration.
The following are the three most common reasons for back pain after age 50:
- Degenerative conditions of your discs and joints, which can cause lack of moisture and shock absorption
- Spondylolisthesis, a condition where one vertebrae slips out of place and touches the bone below it
- Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the canal through which your spinal cord passes
A lot of the time, back pain originates from an accident, sports injury, or otherwise abrupt cause. You may have persistent back pain from a long-ago home improvement incident or from a hard fall during your college sports days, and it just shows up more as you get older.
Interestingly enough, lack of activity, or a sedentary lifestyle, is a leading cause of age-related back pain.
How to keep age-related back pain at bay
At the very least, dealing with back pain is annoying. At worst, it’s debilitating — but you can take action to reduce and even eliminate your back pain. Dr. Jones shares his top three tips.
- Implement a regular exercise regimen.
Moderate physical activity is a game-changer for chronic back pain. You can try water exercises, light resistance and body weight training, or even something as simple as walking a few laps around your neighborhood block. Your exercise program should include stretching and mobility exercises to retain and improve your range of motion. Many people think exercise will exacerbate their pain, but lack of activity, or a sedentary lifestyle, is a leading cause of age-related back pain.
- Apply cold or heat.
When a bout of bad back pain strikes, rest on an ice pack or hot pad to ease the pain. Applying cold or heat intermittently (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, or something similar) can reduce inflammation and quiet the pain.
- Get the facts.
Everyone’s back pain differs, and the best way to treat yours is to know exactly what’s causing it. Dr. Jones will complete a comprehensive physical examination, health history, and pain consultation to get to the root cause of your back pain. Only then can you treat it optimally. Learn more about our different treatments for back pain.
If you’re struggling with back pain call Dr. Jones here at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas or request an appointment online at one of our three locations in Pearland, Bellaire, or Lake Jackson.