What to Do About Age-Related Back Pain

Age-related changes to the spine commonly fuel chronic back pain and can have a major impact on your mobility – and ultimately your quality of life. While there’s no way to stop the hands of time, there are steps you can take to get relief from chronic back pain and get your life back.

Visiting an orthopedic specialist is the first step to getting lasting relief from back pain. Here at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, specializes in treating the root of your back pain and getting you the relief you need to feel and function better.

In this post, our experts discuss how age-related changes to the spine fuel ongoing back pain and what you can do to get relief 

How do age-related changes to the spine fuel back pain?

It may surprise you to know that by the time you reach your 40s, you’re likely to have some degenerative changes to the spine – as most people age 40 and older do. As doctors, we spot these changes when looking at images of the spine, and as patients, you may feel these changes in the form of neck or back pain and stiffness.

Your spine moves smoothly thanks to the discs sandwiched between the individual moveable bones called vertebrae. These discs act as cushions and shock absorbers and keep the vertebrae from rubbing against each other.

As you age, these discs undergo various changes that can result in back pain. The discs may dry out, flatten somewhat, and crack. This can cause a number of issues. 

Degenerative disc disease

Age-related changes to intervertebral disc cause them to lose their function. Without proper cushion and lubrication between the bones of your spine, you’re likely to experience back pain that worsens when sitting, bending, or twisting, and you may experience numbness or tingling in your legs. 

Herniated disc

Dry, cracked, or shrunken discs may become damaged enough to allow the jelly-like inner core to bulge out into the spinal canal. This is referred to as a herniated disc. A displaced disc bulging out into the spinal canal can irritate and compress nerves that run through this hollow space, causing pain and abnormal sensations, including numbness and tingling. 

Spinal stenosis

Compression of the nerve roots in the spine causes spinal stenosis. This means the nerve roots don’t have enough space. Because these nerve roots send and receive sensation information, it’s common to experience pain, tingling, and weakness in the affected area, depending on what part of the spine the narrowing takes place. 

Sciatica

A herniated disc in the lower back can cause sciatica. This causes pain when the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back and down each side of the buttocks and legs is affected. You may experience tingling, numbness, and pain that radiates down one or both legs.

Relief from age-related back pain

The good news is you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of unbearable back pain. There are solutions, and visiting an orthopedic physician like Dr. Jones is a wise place to start. Treatments – such as physical therapy to strengthen and stabilize the spine and steroid injections to reduce inflammation – are helpful in reducing pain and improving flexibility. For mild cases, this may be enough to bring you relief. 

If you’re overweight, losing weight can relieve pressure and pain from aging joints. However, age-related changes to the spine are progressive and tend to worsen over time. What you once experienced as a minor, once-in-a-while backache may eventually become persistent, severe pain that limits your ability to complete everyday tasks. 

Minimally invasive surgery relieves age-related back pain

When your pain isn’t adequately controlled with other treatments, we may recommend surgical treatments to address the age-related changes to your spine, bringing you pain relief and restoring function. Dr. Jones specializes in minimally invasive surgical approaches. 

The type of surgery Dr. Jones recommends depends on the changes to your spine. For instance, if you have spinal stenosis, the goal of spinal surgery is to make more space in the spinal canal to reduce the pressure on your nerves.

Spinal surgery may involve removing part of the affected vertebrae or opening the vertebrae and inserting a metal bridge to keep the section open. Dr. Jones uses the latest advances in orthopedic medicine to help reduce your pain.

If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, visit The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas for a comprehensive evaluation. To ensure that orthopedic patients have access to the care they need, we offer both in-person and telemedicine services for new and existing patients. 

You can schedule your televisit by clicking here, or call one of our offices in Pearland, Houston, or Lake Jackson, Texas.

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