elderly person with osteoarthritis of the hip

Back pain in the elderly: aging without suffering

Le back pain is one of the frequent reasons for consultation, especially among seniors. In France, it is estimated that 80% of perareaged over 65 suffer from it. In this article, we will see if it is possible to grow old without suffering from back pain.

What is back pain?

Every part of the spine may be the seat of pain. We then speak of " back pain to refer to all back pain. The lumbago is the most common back pain. It refers to pain that is felt in the lumbar region, in the lower back. The neck pain is characterized by pain localized to the cervical part, at the level of the neck. And the back pain indicates a middle back pain, in the dorsal region.

back pain and parkinson

Most of the time, back pain is common » : it is not linked to a serious underlying illness.

Un back pain can last a few days: it is a acute back pain (also referred to as lumbago ou kidney tower). In some cases, the pain progresses to chronicity and persists for more than three months.

What happens to the spine as we age?

Le aging process of the spinal column intensifies from the age of 30 years. We observe physiological degenerations at the level of intervertebral discs and posterior joints as well as ligaments, muscles, bones and the nervous system that controls the spine.

The intervertebral discs serve as links between vertebrae and shock absorbers during shocks to the spine. With age, these discs are drying up causing a loss of their elasticity and height. They then find it difficult to ensure their roles both in the flexibility of the joint and in the absorption of shocks.

anatomy of intervertebral discs and spine

This phenomenon of drying of the intervertebral discs affects the vertebrae and the spine in general. In effect, some vertebrae ou groups of vertebrae become more rigid that others.

Otherwise, 60 years after, we are witnessing a decrease in muscle mass and increase in body fat.

All of these aging processes are physiological phenomena. They are completely normal and are in no way synonymous with dysfunction or pain.

What are the causes of back pain in seniors?

Very often a back pain is due to bad habits namely an unsuitable posture at work during professional life, in front of a computer or while doing gardening. The same goes for carrying heavy loads or wearing high heels as well as prolonged (and excessive) standing or sitting.

These situations impose mechanical constraints on the vertebral structure. They sometimes end up causing vertebral compression. Hence the pain.

osteoarthritis,osteoporosis or herniated disc can cause back pain. In 5% of cases back pain in the elderly, a inflammatory origin is found (as a inflammatory low back pain).

Spinal osteoarthritis Back pain in the elderly

Other causes are possible: stress, depression or fibromyalgia.

What can be done to prevent and treat back pain in seniors?

Preventive measures

We will need to support our seniors so that they can:

  • correct bad attitudes of stature and avoid prolonged static positions;
  • do a minimum daily physical activity to tone the back muscles;
  • take a healthy and balanced diet providing enough calcium (1200 mg per day) and vitamin D (800 to 2000 IU or 20 to 50 µg per day);
  • losing weight in case of overweight;
  • preserve the Mental Health.

What to do to relieve back pain in an elderly person?

First of all, it should see a doctor. The treatments vary according to the intensity and especially the cause of the back pain. Drug treatments such as anti-inflammatories or painkillers are prescribed. In the rare cases of persistent pain, a corticosteroid infiltration may be necessary, even going as far as surgery.

cortisone infiltration complications

Other ways that can help relieve back pain:

  • Use a walking stick : the latter supports the weight of the body and allows the spine to stand straight.
  • Change mattress: it is not uncommon for lower back pain or neck pain to be related to poor bedding. The mattresses and ergonomic pillows are to be favored.
  • Consult a physiotherapist or an osteopath: to learn the different stretching exercises to do to relieve pain.

Wearing a lumbar belt, the use of lumbar cushion, the application of heat or ice and the natural herbal poultice with anti-inflammatory properties can also remedy back pain.

To know other natural products anti back pain, see the following article.




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