Is Back Pain Normal As You Age?

For many of us, back pain increases as we get older. Up to 80% of Americans suffer from back pain around the ages of 40 and 60. Disruptive as it may be, back pain is also serious. Back pain can turn into a chronic, debilitating problem that interferes with your quality of life.

If you’re experiencing back pain, consider calling David Johnston, DO. At Osteopathic Wellness Center in Ridgefield, Connecticut, he offers many care options that can help you regain your lifestyle. 

What causes back pain?

Several factors can trigger back pain. As you age, your muscles begin losing elasticity, and your bones lose strength. This causes your spine to lose cushioning as well, leading to lower back pain. Lower back pain is the most common type and develops from sitting for long periods or from an increase in pressure on this area due to being overweight.

If you lift something heavy or twist your back incorrectly, you could strain your lower back muscles. Symptoms of this type of pain often include a shooting or stabbing feeling in the lower back. Pain that is severe enough to limit your mobility or lasts more than three months is considered chronic. Upper back pain is less common but develops due to poor posture, muscle tension, and causes neck pain that radiates to your shoulders and upper arms. 

As you grow older, smoking, inactivity, excess weight, stress, poor posture, and sleeping habits can increase your chances of developing back pain. Medical issues like osteoporosis, viral infections, arthritis, and other diseases contribute to increasing the severity of your condition. 

Types of back pain that increases with age 

Arthritis 

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage lining, the elastic tissue of your vertebrae, diminishes. Spinal discs become narrow as a result and add pressure on your joints. This type of arthritis is known to cause severe inflammation leading to back pain. 

Discs 

Discs are the gel-like cushions that lie between the bones in your spine. They allow your spine to hold a natural curvature when you bend or flex. They are also capable of absorbing shock as you walk or run. 

When they rupture, they irritate nearby nerves. Herniated discs are one of the most common causes of back pain in older patients. As you age, your discs dry out, become rigid, and are susceptible to wear and tear. 

Spinal stenosis 

Spinal stenosis happens when areas of the spine are narrow and put pressure on the surrounding nerves. Excess pressure on the spinal cord causes cramping, numbness, and pain. Aging, bone disease, tumors, and spinal cord injuries may be responsible for triggering spinal stenosis. 

Eating a healthy diet, watching your weight, and maintaining a regular exercise regimen can help you regain strength and ultimately put less pressure on your back. Lowering your risk of developing severe back pain often begins with keeping your body active. 

If you’re dealing with severe back pain, call our office today!

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