As we become wiser, we experience many joys in life. Unfortunately, we can also experience more pain, especially in our backs. Just about anyone may suffer from lower back pain, but the chances of developing low back pain greatly increases as we age. LBP, or low back pain, is incredibly common in older adults and is often misunderstood and not properly treated. As a result, low back pain is the most common health problem that results in pain and disability in adults over the age of 60. In order to properly treat our lower back pain, it’s important to understand what could be causing it. Let’s look at the different causes of the pain in older adults.
What Causes Lower Back Pain in Wiser Adults?
1. Loss of Muscle Tone
As we age, our body naturally loses muscle mass and tone. Unless we actively work to keep our muscles strong and healthy, they will continue to degenerate until the point that they cannot easily support us. This can lead to poor posture, poorly distributed weight, and trouble walking, all of which lead to back pain. Weak muscles can also easily be sprained or strained when we pick up a heavy object or make sudden movements. These muscle and myofascial pains can be tender to the touch and leave us lying on the couch in agony! But do not despair. You can strengthen you core muscles that support your spine with the strength-building programs and scientifically designed course of exercises for back health and core stability in Wysefit app!
2. Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal column narrows. This puts extra pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, causing pain. Spinal stenosis is usually caused by the degeneration of discs between our vertebrae. Our nerve roots or spinal cord may be compressed by either our discs or bony spurs. This can lead to pain, weakness, and numbness.
3. Herniated Discs
A herniated disc is a spinal disc that has been torn or herniated on the outside. This is sometimes referred to as a ruptured disc or a slipped disc. This happens when the cartilage that surrounds the disc pushes against our spinal cord or nerves. The cartilage is supposed to cushion our disc, but instead, it is outside its normal position which can result in injury. The disc can also compress the nerve roots, causing pain. Again, this condition can be alleviated by strengthening the core muscles as well as glutes (muscles in our butt).
Osteoarthritis can affect more than just our joints. Facet joint osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that gradually breaks down the cartilage between the facet joints of the spine. The pain increases as the disease takes hold, so we may not experience any symptoms at first. But as we age, the pain becomes worse. If you are suffering from osteoarthritis, you should strengthen your core muscles – just the same as for herniated discs.
Sciatica is a common condition in which a herniated or dislocated disc presses on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve connects the spine to the legs and can cause pain in our lower back, legs, and feet. Sciatica pain can feel like a burning sensation or pins and needles. It is recommended to consult a physician to confirm that your pain is indeed caused by sciatica and not another condition. To alleviate sciatica pain, you can do these stretches.
6. Osteoporotic Vertebral Fractures
As we age, our bones naturally lose mass and become thin and brittle. When our bones become very weak, it is called osteoporosis. Unfortunately, these weak bones include the spine and vertebrae. As a result, vertebrae may fracture, or break, causing pain in the lower back. Older women are more prone to these fractures than men because hormone changes put them at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. This is a fairly common condition. Around 25% of postmenopausal women experience vertebral compression fractures.
This condition occurs when either the fourth or fifth vertebrae degenerate and fracture. This leads to an unstable spine where the vertebra may slip forward or over the other discs. This can cause sciatica pain and low back pain. Unfortunately, women are more at risk of developing spondylosis than men.
8. De novo Degenerative Lumbar Scoliosis
This is a specific type of scoliosis that develops in older adults. Most of us think of scoliosis as something children have. However, adults can develop scoliosis late in life and experience low back pain and leg pain that can be disabling. We do not need to have a history of scoliosis for this disease to develop but it may be associated with the other conditions listed above.
9. Non-specific LBP
Unfortunately, sometimes doctors cannot explain the reason for the pain in our lower back. When this happens, we are usually diagnosed with either non-specific low back pain or mechanical low back pain. It can be caused by a pulled muscle, thickening ligaments, or degenerative discs. A doctor may have to perform numerous tests to determine the cause. This will be done if we cannot find any relief from the pain. However, if our pain comes and goes, they may just diagnose us with non-specific LBP so we can either begin physical therapy or start taking medication to ease the pain. Low back pain affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. However, older adults are more susceptible to low back pain and should be careful when they begin to experience pain. Staying active and eating a healthy diet can help prevent many instances of pain, but you should always consult with your doctor if your pain continues.