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Is Back Pain Normal as You Age?

Jul 11, 2023
Is Back Pain Normal as You Age?
Aging ushers in lots of challenges, and for many people, that means more back pain. The fact is, chronic back pain is never normal, but fortunately, there are lots of ways to relieve it. Here’s how we can help.

Oh, my aching back! As we get older, it’s tempting to write off a sore back as just a “normal” part of aging. Although occasional, temporary back pain might not be a big problem, chronic pain is never normal — and it’s often a sign of a more serious underlying issue that can quickly get worse without medical attention.

At Metro Spine PC, our team works closely with patients of all ages in Oxon Hill and Clinton, Maryland, getting to the root cause of back pain so that we can tailor a treatment plan aimed at providing fast, long-term relief. In this post, learn why back pain increases with age and how we can work together to help you find relief.

Aging and your spine

Like every part of your body, your spine is affected by the aging process. Many of those changes cause or contribute to nagging, chronic pain.

Spine conditions

Many people don’t realize their spine is composed of a series of joints between each pair of vertebrae (spine bones). These joints can become arthritic, just like your knees or hips. Bony overgrowths called bone spurs may form, compressing nerves or making simple movements, like bending or lifting, extremely painful.

The discs in your spine also change with age. Plump and resilient when you’re young, discs lose fluid as you age, becoming thinner and flatter. That means they can’t provide the same amount of shock absorption and flexibility as they once did. It also means the spaces between spine bones decrease, leading to painful friction.

As you get older, the space inside your spinal column can narrow as a result of arthritis, thickened ligaments, or other changes, resulting in a condition called spinal stenosis. Other people have osteoporosis, experiencing tiny microfractures that can lead to spine compression.

Lifestyle change

Physical changes in and around the spine aren’t the only factors that can increase pain as we age. Lifestyle factors can take a toll, too.

Many older people are less active than they once were. Sedentary habits can quickly lead to decreased flexibility in the spine, which, in turn, exacerbates pain.

A lifetime of poor posture is another common cause of back pain that can affect people of all ages. When combined with a decrease in physical activity, the effect can be magnified.

Age can also usher in weight gain for many people. Even a few extra pounds can put added pressure on your spine, leading to chronic back pain, especially in the lower back.

Treating nagging back pain

Metro Spine PC is a leader in pain management therapies, offering a variety of treatments to ensure every patient receives the most appropriate care for their needs. Typically, treatment begins with conservative options, like over-the-counter medicines, ice and heat, activity modification, and physical therapy.

If these treatments aren’t effective, our team may recommend other options, like:

For more severe or complex issues, we may recommend surgery.

Lifestyle changes are frequently included in treatment plans. These changes might include weight loss, exercise plans, smoking cessation, ergonomic changes at work, and other changes aimed at relieving pressure and pain in your back, while also supporting a healthier lifestyle.

Custom treatment for your chronic back pain

Chronic back pain is not a normal part of aging, and it definitely should never be ignored. To find out what’s causing your nagging pain — and how we can help — request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Metro Spine PC today.