The normal aging process can create a variety of issues throughout the body. Because of medical advances, the average human lifespan has grown substantially in the previous decade. However, the rapidly aging population raises the likelihood of ailments such as back pain. In this article, we will be talking about back pain in detail.
How common is back pain in people over 50?
Back pain conditions are one of the most common health problems in people aged 50 and over, which disable them to some extent. It’s common to experience back pain as you become older. Some estimates claim that up to 85 percent of the population may suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Most people begin to experience back pain between 40 to 60 years of age.
According to studies, the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in older individuals ranges from 65 to 85%, with 36 to 70% of them experiencing back pain. Older folks (50 and older) are the second most prevalent age group to seek medical help for back pain. Individuals aged 80 years or older were found to be three times more likely than those aged 50 to 59 years to suffer from severe back pain.
A Spanish study revealed that the prevalence of chronic back pain was 24.2 and 12.3% in females and males aged 65 years or older. An Israeli study discovered that the incidence of chronic back pain in individuals aged 77 years was as high as 58 percent. What are the causes of back pain in people over 50? There are several causes for back pain in people over 50. Various age-related physical, psychological, and mental changes like physical inactivity, dementia, and multiple risk factors like genetics and gender can induce those causes. The most common causes are listed below.
Osteoporosis is a common aging condition in which the bones lose density and mass, becoming fragile and brittle and prone to fractures and immobility. Because of hormonal changes after menopause, this is more frequent in postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis can cause a spinal compression fracture in the lower back, which occurs when the bones in the spine weaken or crumble.
Spondylolisthesis is a problem that happens when one of your spine’s vertebrae slides forward and out of position, generally onto the vertebra below it. The vertebrae can crush nerves, causing excruciating agony and discomfort when you move. Spondylolisthesis can be caused by overstretching of your lumbar spine on a regular basis. This problem, if not treated promptly, can result in irreparable injury.
3 Spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis, a common cause of back pain in older people, is a narrowing of the canal through which your spinal cord runs. This narrowing is frequently caused by arthritic facet joints, disc degeneration, and thickening of ligaments in the back. The narrowing exerts pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, producing pain, numbness, or cramps. It is common in people over the age of 50.
Spinal osteoarthritis is caused by facet joint wear and tear, resulting in excessive friction while twisting or bending the spine. It develops when the cartilage in the joints wears away, causing bone damage. This friction might result in bone spurs pinching a nerve root and causing sciatica pain. The majority of 32.5 million affected individuals in the United States are over 50.
5 Spinal infection
The spine, like any other portion of the body, is susceptible to infection, which can cause spinal weakness and extreme pain. Spinal infections are significantly more common among older individuals, especially those with diabetes and those who are immunocompromised. Bacterial infections are the most frequent kind. However, fungal and tuberculosis infections can also occur. The condition is fatal and has been on the rise in recent years.
6 Degenerative discs
The gel-like cushions that sit between the vertebrae are known as discs. Our joints lose their capacity to self-lubricate and cushion as we age. When in motion, spinal discs lose their ability to absorb stress and weight. They deteriorate and are no longer capable of adequately supporting the spinal cord. This results in pinched nerves, muscular spasms, and inflammation, ultimately resulting in pain.
How to prevent age-related back pain from worsening?
Fortunately, there are measures you can take to keep back pain from becoming severe or persistent. Although aging plays a key role in back pain, there are other variables that contribute to the problem in elderly individuals. Taking the appropriate measures aids in the management of back pain. Follow these to prevent age-related back pain from worsening:
● Avoid strenuous physical exercise since it increases the likelihood of suffering from back pain.
● Quit smoking because smokers are more likely to get back pain owing to degenerative effects in spinal tissues.
● Avoid working in jobs that require you to lift heavy things and need stooping, bending, and twisting your body.
● Doing physical activities like jogging, cycling, and walking is one of the greatest strategies to avoid back pain as you age. It maintains the strength and flexibility of your muscles, joints, and bones.
● You can also lose weight, improve your posture and eat healthy foods.
How to treat back pain effectively?
Treatment for your back pain may vary depending on the reason, your symptoms, and your general health. The various treatments available are:
● Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for suppressing spinal pain.
● Consulting a chiropractor is a more advanced type of back pain care for the elderly.
● Trying acupuncture, a unique therapeutic method that includes inserting tiny needles into certain spots on your spine to tweak them.
● Going for physical therapy, a treatment that combines massage, stretching, and exercise to correct imbalances that cause pain. It also strengthens the regions that produce pain due to weakness.
The health and lifestyle choices we take also play a significant role in back pain becoming common in people over 50. You do not have to accept back pain as your fate and can prevent it or fight against it by taking the necessary measures.