Is Back Pain Normal As You Age?

Back pain is virtually inevitable. As you read this, about 31 million Americans are currently suffering from back pain. It’s the leading cause of disability around the world and among the primary reasons for missed time in the workplace. Costs associated with medical care and lost wages could amount to as much as $100 billion in the United States every year.

There’s no single cause of back pain, and it’s often a combination of factors that contribute. People of all ages can suffer from sore backs, yet the leading risk factor for developing back pain is simply getting older. Many causes of back pain result from the normal wear and tear of living.

Degenerative contributors to back pain

Overuse, strain, and injury that result in back pain may happen to anyone at any age. These cases tend to be short-lived acute episodes, and the back pain generally lasts less than six weeks as your body’s own repair systems take care of the damage.

Chronic back pain often occurs when body systems begin to deteriorate from years of use. Osteoarthritis, for example, is one such wear-and-tear type of condition that can result in associated pain, and since it can affect any joint in the body, your spine is at risk. 

Each space between vertebrae is a joint that gives your spine flexibility while maintaining its role as protector of the spinal cord, the central conduit of the nervous system.

Spinal stenosis

Peripheral nerves branch off the spinal cord, so they must wind through and around the vertebrae and spinal discs. As you age, spinal discs dry out and their outer shells become more brittle. The space between vertebrae is no longer as wide as when you were young, so there’s less room for nerves to pass through unhindered.

If you lose bone mass, or if you develop bone spurs on your vertebrae, these too can reduce the space available for your nerves. Contact with bone or spinal disc tissue can cause nerve irritation, which can result in numbness, tingling, or pain at the site of the irritation or anywhere along the rest of the nerve’s length.

Reducing the risk

Despite the wear-and-tear nature of these conditions, staying physically active is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of age-related back pain, even if you’re already experiencing symptoms. If you have a job or hobbies that include long periods of standing or sitting, take frequent breaks to change position and practice good posture habits at all times.

A diet full of healthy, whole foods provides the nutrients needed for your body to effectively handle its own repairs. Strive for an optimal body weight to reduce the load on all your joints.

When back pain is more than you can manage on your own, it’s time to visit Westside Pain Specialists. Dr. James Nassiri is an expert in pain management protocols, and he can help you develop a plan to minimize the impact of your back pain. Contact the office nearest you to arrange your consultation. Call today, or send the team a message here on their website.  

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