Is Back Pain Normal as You Age?

Back pain is a normal part of nearly everyone’s life at some point in time. In fact, about 80% of Americans will deal with back pain, either acute or chronic, during their lives. But, is back pain normal and inevitable after your 50th birthday — a time when many adults develop age-related back pain?

The team of chiropractors, nurse practitioners, and physical rehabilitation technicians at BodyWorks Medical Center in Carol Stream, Illinois make it their mission to education patients about age-related back pain and help you keep your spine and muscles as healthy as possible as you get older. We believe you can be as active as you want to be at every age, and we can help you with our natural approach to acute and chronic back pain. 

To some extent, back pain is normal as you age, but you don’t have to let it rule your life. Discover why you might experience back pain as you get older and how to prevent it from getting worse or keep you from participating in your favorite activities.

Common causes of age-related back pain

Some of the most common causes of age-related back pain include degenerative changes to your spine, as well as spondylolisthesis, spinal arthritis, and spinal stenosis. 

Degenerative conditions

As you get older, the discs between the vertebrae in your spine lose moisture. Discs are the cushions, or shock absorbers, between your vertebrae. As they dry out, they become less effective than they were when you were younger.

As the discs dry and shrink, it can cause your vertebrae to rub against each other. As a result, you feel pain and stiffness in your spine. Discs can also bulge and rupture as a result of wear-and-tear over the years. Improper lifting of heavy objects, overexertion, and twisting your back can also cause discs to bulge, slip, and rupture. 

A ruptured disc is the same thing as a herniated disc, which means some of the inner substance of the disc leaks out into your spinal column. Typically, this happens when you tear the disc’s outer covering. Pressure from the ruptured disc often puts pressure on a nerve in your spine and causes pain. 

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is what happens when one vertebra in your spinal column slips forward onto the vertebra below. Frequent overstretching of your lumber (lower) spine can lead to spondylolisthesis. Like a ruptured disc, slipped vertebrae can also put pressure on a nerve and cause back pain and discomfort when you move. 

Spinal arthritis and osteoporosis

The joints in your spine where the vertebrae meet each other are called facet joints. Like discs, facet joints can also deteriorate with age, which often causes spinal arthritis. Osteoporosis means your bone density and bone mass decrease, which can make your vertebrae more susceptible to fractures as you get older, as well. 

Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis, an age-related cause of back pain, happens when your spinal canal narrows. This narrowing is often due to disc degeneration, arthritic facet joints, and thickened ligaments in your back. You often feel pressure and pain in your lower back.

Is it possible to prevent age-related back pain?

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent back pain from becoming debilitating or chronic. 

Exercise more

There’s definitely some truth to the adage, “If you don’t move it you lose it.” Becoming more physically active is one of the best ways to prevent back pain as you get older. You know that exercise has numerous health benefits, but did you know that one of them is helping your muscles, joints, and bones stay strong and flexible? 

And strong, flexible muscles and bones mean you’re less prone to injury and back issues.  Additionally, when you’re physically fit, you can usually recover from back pain symptoms more quickly when they do occur. 

Make lifestyle changes

Another way to help prevent back pain as you age is by making positive lifestyle changes, including:

Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to accept back pain as an inevitable part of life. At BodyWorks Medical Center, we’re happy to help you make these changes and provide expert care and rehabilitation when you do have back pain. We take a holistic approach to back pain and overall health for our patients of all ages. 

Give us a call at 630-326-5730, or book an appointment online today.

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