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BACK PAIN IN THE OLDER AGE GROUP AND HOW TO PREVENT IT…

They say that low back pain is one of the major disabling health conditions among the elderly. Most causes of lower back pain among the elderly are actually wide raging but not life-threatening, as you age you are obviously prone to develop some lower back pain.

As your spine ages, you are bound to feel some aches and pains but it has been found that the age group of 60+ years of age are more likely to develop low back pain due to osteoarthritis problems, fractures, infections, lumbar spinal stenosis and degeneration of the joints in the spine. With time, the spine wears down. The different components, the joints, the discs and the bones, all get weaker.

One of the problems can be nerve pain. With age, discs in the neck and back can degenerate, causing them to herniate or pop out and press on nerves. Enlarged joints and ligaments can also cause nerve pain.

Myofascial pain in the lumbar muscles or piriformis is common among seniors. Myofascial pain is a localized touchable tenderness and tightness within a muscle that resists passive stretching and reproduces a predictable referred pain pattern on touch.

Exercise is an essential tool to keep your low back in good order and one of the best forms is walking. They suggest at least 30 minutes per day of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days per week. Also, calcium and vitamin D supplements, are a critical way to combat the development of bone loss and/or osteoporosis, which can weaken the spine and put you at risk for a broken hip or a spinal fracture.

Increasing core muscular strength can assist in supporting your lumbar spine and is something I am doing with my physiotherapist on a regular basis. She gives me different exercises every time I see her which I do daily. I don’t have too many to do in one session as it can then become more of a chore than just a daily routine and could put some sufferers from doing them. “Little and often” is my physios motto.

Of course we all know that obesity is associated with an increased risk of back pain. Excess weight also tends to prolong the recovery period after episodes of back pain. Every extra pound of weight loss helps to avoid strain on the muscles and ligaments of the back.

As I am sure most of my readers know I am a true advocate of heat. Some people prefer ice but I cannot live without my heat during the winter months in particular. Apart from a heating pad for my bed and for sitting in the lounge I also use them in the car for long journeys. Heat packs will relax muscles and increase the range of motion of the lower back, quickly helping both spasms and stiffness. If your car does not have heated seats you can buy heat packs that plug into your lighter point and are just as good if not better as they can get so warm.

There have been a number of studies that showed a link between cigarette smoking and back pain. They say that the damaged arteries in the discs and joints in your back could lead to pain and injury through smoking. It also increases your risk for osteoporosis.

Proper posture is also very important to keep your bones and joints in alignment. This decreases the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces, reduces stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together and allows your muscles to work more efficiently. 

If you take regular breaks and get up, stretch, and move around regularly throughout the day it will help recharge stiff muscles and low back pain.

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