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Guest Blog: Managing Back Pain as You Age

Like other critical parts of the musculoskeletal system, the spine experiences some wear and tear over the decades. Does this mean back pain is inevitable as you get older? Not necessarily.

What Happens to Your Spine as You Age?
The spine itself is composed of a series of stacked bones called vertebrae. Small joints between each vertebra allow for the spine’s range of movement and little rubbery discs with jelly-like centers inside make sure bones don’t rub against one another (they also serve as the spine’s shock absorbers).

Over time, these disks can dry out, shrink, and wear away, causing the spine to compress. This is known as degenerative disc disease. Sometimes the space surrounding the spinal cord will start to narrow too; this is known as spinal stenosis. Arthritis and osteoporosis may also affect the spine as you age leading to joint degradation and even spinal fractures.

Any of these age-related conditions can contribute to back pain, especially when bones start rubbing against one another and nerves get pinched. The body may even go as far as to grow bone spurs in an effort to stabilize a degenerating spine.

Preventing and Managing Back Pain
So, is there anything older adults can do to prevent it or at least manage the pain and discomfort that comes with those types of conditions? Definitely.

Experts recommend taking actions to relieve some of the burden your spine bears during daily activity. This includes:

  • Exercising to strengthen your back and core to more properly support the spine
    Practicing good posture when sitting, using the computer, texting, etc.
    Wearing a back brace for added posture support and lumbar compression
    Eating a healthy diet rich with anti-inflammatory foods that help you maintain a healthy weight and combat systemic inflammation in they body – think fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and lean proteins
    Reducing stress on the back. This may mean utilizing lumbar cushions when driving, updating your mattress to better support your spine when sleeping, and avoiding activities which exacerbate your back pain

Additional Thoughts
Of course, it is also important to remember that acute back pain can also stem from something as simple as a muscle strain. Lifting something heavy, straining your arms and neck reaching for something in an awkward position, even sitting for a long period of time in an uncomfortable chair – any of these things can cause back pain and inflammation.

By |2022-07-30T11:49:49-05:00September 24th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Managing Back Pain as You Age

Guest Blog: Spinal Health: How to Decrease Your Back Pain

 

Back pain can affect every aspect of your life from your job, sleep, sitting posture and so much more. It prevents you from being able to accomplish your daily tasks. In fact, back pain causes the highest number of job-related disabilities. As such, you need to take care of your spine today to ensure that you reduce the chances of getting back pain in the future. Here are a few ways to do that:

Sleep Right

While you sleep, your spine should be restful and straight. You can ensure that happens by getting the right pillow and mattress combination. Get a firm or a medium-firm mattress that supports your spine as an old and soft mattress allows the spine to sag. Choose pillows that only elevate your head enough to align the spine.

The pillows and their placement should be ideal for your sleeping position. For back sleepers, place a pillow beneath your knees. For side sleepers, place a pillow between your knees, and you can also have a neck pillow to support the neck.

Exercise the Core Muscles

Exercising the core muscles gives them the strength to support your spine. These are the muscles of the lower back and the abdomen. When they are strong enough, the muscles will take the pressure off the lower back. In most cases, you will not exercise the core muscles during everyday activities. To exercise the muscles, you need to take on targeted exercises. If you already have back pain, or you have other medical conditions, you need to talk to your doctor or therapist to find the best exercises for you. There are those exercises that can reduce back pain to keep you comfortable.

If you do deadlifts, you need to lift right. When lifting, use your legs and knees instead of the lower back to lift the item.

Surgery to Ease the Pain

If you have a nerve condition that causes back pain, you need less invasive surgery to correct the pain. This surgery, known as rhizotomy, helps correct back pain for people with conditions, such as arthritis, joint pain, disc herniations, degenerative spinal conditions, spasticity, pain from cerebral palsy, and trigeminal neuralgia.

A specialist will assess you to determine the level of nerve pain and whether the procedure is right for you. If they determine you are eligible for the procedure, they will place an electrode through fluoroscopy and then stimulate the nerves and then deaden the sensory nerves to stop the pain.

Massage the Lower Back

Massage has several advantages. For starters, it increases blood flow to the back, loosens the tight muscles and the connective tissues, and helps you relax. The massage doesn’t have to be vigorous. Get some moderate level massage, and it will be stress-relieving.

If you are not able to visit a massage spa, due to financial or time constraints, you can get a massage chair, which offers Swedish or shiatsu massage. Combining massage with exercises for the core will give you all the benefits of a strong lower back. Besides, the massage will help with insomnia, restore the full range of motion, and increase endorphin levels.

Besides massage, you can use heat therapy around the muscles that surround your spine. This will increase the flow of blood to the spine and in turn bring healing. You can go for heating pads, heat wraps, or seek professional heat therapy.

Eat Well

Your diet can help maintain the health of your spine. To get the best from your food, limit your food intake to only the items you can find in nature, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meats, legumes, and others that are rich in anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. When you take foods rich in vitamins and calcium, you can treat conditions, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Limit the intake of processed foods and unhealthy sweet treats. This will help you fight weight gain and reduce pressure on your spine. People who are obese place too much pressure on their spines, and losing weight can be a good remedy.

There are many other practices that can help you relieve back pain. These include re-evaluating your sitting posture, doing yoga, staying hydrated, and paying attention to any back pain warning signs.

 

By |2022-03-14T19:37:03-05:00March 14th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Spinal Health: How to Decrease Your Back Pain