Is Back Pain Normal As You Age?

The aging process has lots of surprises in store for you and persistent back pain may be one of those surprises. As a back pain specialist, Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, understands how overwhelming age-related back pain can be, especially when it begins to interfere with your ability to stay active. 

Why your back is hurting

While most everyone experiences an occasional twinge of back pain in their lifetime, persistent pain in your back as you get older is very common. There are a number of reasons why your back pain becomes progressively worse as you age, such as:

Common muscle sprains and strains

As you get older, your muscles become weaker and are prone to injuries, like sprains and strains, during exercise and other physical activity.

You may also have muscle-related back pain if you’re working in a job that requires extended time sitting at a desk or standing on hard surfaces, which strains your muscles.

Degenerative spinal changes

Your muscles aren’t the only thing that weakens with age. The vertebrae in your spine begin breaking down and you lose the cushioning support of the gel-filled discs that absorb the shock of your movements.

As the vertebrae and discs start degenerating as you get older, your bones begin rubbing together and causing pain and limited range of motion in your back. Pressure on the discs can cause a herniated disc, where the the gel-like disc center is forced outward and irritates spinal nerves.

Aging also puts you at risk for spinal stenosis, a condition where your spinal column becomes narrow and compresses the nearby nerves, resulting in chronic jolts of pain and decreased mobility.

Underlying inflammation and arthritis

Age increases your risk for medical conditions that lead to chronic back pain. Arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, causes the protective cartilage on the ends of your spinal joints to deteriorate.

This deterioration leads to additional pressure on your joints and friction that causes inflammation and persistent pain. Arthritis can also make your joints stiff and you may lose range of motion in your back.

Weight considerations

When you’re already experiencing persistent back pain, you’re likely limited in what you can do physically. As a result, it becomes more difficult to maintain healthy bones and muscles. You may also find it increasingly hard to manage your weight.

Excessive weight can contribute to the pressure on your spine and the muscles that support it, causing back pain. This can also start a seemingly endless cycle of needing to exercise but not being able to physically do it.

Treating age-related back pain

To keep your pain well-managed and prevent the worsening of your condition, Dr. Okubadejo offers customized, in-office treatments that may include:

You may also be a candidate for spine surgery to address advanced issues, like severe arthritis, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis. 

In addition to treatments for back pain, Dr. Okubadejo works with you to make the lifestyle modifications necessary to keep your spine strong and healthy. Daily exercise, a healthy diet, and implementing changes in your physical activity can also go a long way to promoting back and spine health.

Learn more about your options for treating age-related back pain by calling The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care or using the convenient online booking feature to schedule an appointment. 

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