Back pain for the older adult is often associated with ‘wear and tear, or what is medically known as degeneration. For us two-footed creatures it is quite normal, and happens often earlier than you might think but there are steps you can take to offset the degeneration that comes with ageing.
It can often start in late 20’s early 30’s with acute disc problems or ‘slipped disc’ as they are commonly known and very debilitating, but as we get older back pain is often less acute but troublesome on a lower grade level. However, what is seen on MRI and X Ray does not always correlate with the amount of pain versus the degree of wear and tear.
The causes of degenerative back pain are many and varied, often involving multiple factors such as family history, posture, and particularly the movement patterns that we do at work, home and including interest, sports hobbies that we have. In essence, ‘we are what we do.’
Sometimes in older adults as they retire their movement patterns change, with some becoming more sedentary, whilst others take on different repetitive work such as DIY which their body is not accustomed to. Both ends of the spectrum can cause problems.
Similarly, older adults are more likely to develop osteoporosis, leading to fractures of the vertebrae affecting both men and women. Of course, there are other problems such as lumbar spinal stenosis tumours, spinal infection. However, whilst they exist, they are less common.
So how can we help ourselves. Well for the likes of degeneration and osteoporosis the golden rule is always activity, ‘use it or lose it.’ BUT activity as long as it’s not extreme can help.
This doesn’t have to mean extreme activities, it may be just walking regularly every day, with the dog, a friend etc also maybe explore hobbies like cycling - it doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon!
Similarly doing large amounts of DIY over a short period may well cause some problems, so this is where people need to pace themselves and change the activity regularly. Give the body chance to become adjusted to the change of activity and movement pattern.
Another factor to take into consideration for older people is balance and coordination. As mobility in joints can become restricted due to sedentary lifestyles, our ability to cope with sudden movements or upsets to balance deteriorates. This can lead to falls with the inevitable breaks and fractures bringing further limitations to activities and impacts on well-being.
Again, staying mobile and even trying new activities will help to offset the degeneration that come with ageing. Doing simple balance exercises such as one-leg balance or taking up yoga or tai-chi can lead to big improvements in movement. Better coordination can reduce tension in the body and the resultant wear and tear on joints and muscles.
Just remember to follow the basic rule: Move well, move often.
If you would like more advice give us a call on 01480 455221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have plenty of practitioners ready to help you manage your back pain. Follow us of Facebook and Twitter