I'm Over 50—Is Chronic Back Pain Normal?

You might expect aches and pains as you get older. After all, that wear and tear over the years has to result in some damage, right? The problem with back pain is that it can start at any age for many reasons, so tolerating pain because you think it’s normal for your age could cause you unnecessary discomfort, and even long-term damage.

According to a survey of US adults, 26% believed that weak muscles caused their chronic back pain, and 55% tried to treat it themselves. Without an accurate diagnosis, you may treat just the symptoms rather than the cause and potentially worsen the problem.  

So, here’s the lowdown on why your back pain might not be normal for your age and what the real cause might be.

Chronic back pain can develop from a wide range of causes.

For us in the medical community to describe pain as “chronic,” you need to be experiencing it consistently for three months or more. There isn’t a singular cause of chronic pain because many structures in your spine and back can become damaged in numerous ways; Muscle strain, repetitive movements, degeneration, and disease can all contribute.

Causes of chronic back pain we often see here at International Spine Pain & Performance Center that can affect you at any age include:

Persistent wear and tear over time, rather than age itself, can cause problems for the discs in your spine. Certain professions where repetitive movements involve the back, such as farming, can lead to problems in your 40s or younger that others may not experience until they are much older.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect your back.

Persistent wear and tear over time can cause problems for the bones in your body, especially in your feet, knees, and hips. This is a result of the cartilage cushioning your joints being worn away. The discs in your spine can also degenerate this way, losing their cushioning and causing what we call “facet joint osteoarthritis.”

It’s estimated worldwide that 18% of women and 9.6% of men aged over 60 have symptoms of osteoarthritis alongside the pain, which include:

Osteoarthritis can cause spinal stenosis, a condition in which the spaces in your spine have become too narrow and direct pressure is put on your nerves resulting in pain, pins and needles, weakness in your hands and arms, and problems with your ability to balance.

Effective treatment for your chronic back pain is reliant on accurate diagnosis.

Don’t suffer with your back pain in silence with the belief it’s normal for your age. Accurate diagnosis can pinpoint the cause of your chronic pain and help us at the International Spine Pain & Performance Center to design a tailored treatment plan for your symptoms. To reach a diagnosis, we’ll perform a physical exam, review your symptoms and medical history, and may use additional tests such as an MRI or X-ray to look at what’s happening with your back and spine.

Treatment for your back pain will depend on the cause, your symptoms and your overall health but is likely to involve anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and interventional pain management techniques such as epidurals, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation.

To discover how we can treat your chronic back pain and have you enjoying your regular activities again, get in touch with us today for your consultation with us here at International Spine Pain & Performance Center.

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