My favorite childhood memory is my back not hurting.” – Anonymous
It has been something of a cultural meme since probably the beginning of recorded history. People complain about back pain and, especially, as they get older.
From minor backaches in the morning after getting out of bed, to recurring back pain from physical exertion that seems to increase in frequency as we get older, back pain seems to be a staple of life as humans.
And seems to be more so for some than others.
Is Lower Back Pain Inevitable as We Age?
Life experience and anecdotal evidence suggests that it is. And studies conducted specifically on the correlation between back pain and aging seem to support this idea, as well.
For example, a study published by the National Institutes of Health noted that,
“Low back pain (LBP) is one of the major disabling health conditions among older adults aged 60 years or older. While most causes of LBP among older adults are non-specific and self-limiting, seniors are prone to develop certain LBP pathologies and/or chronic LBP given their age-related physical and psychosocial changes.”
However, the authors of the study also noted that there are multiple factors and that simply “getting older” is likely to be one of the least prominent.
They listed a number of what they termed “modifiable risk factors” as contributors to back pain in aging patients including:
- Psychological distress (e.g., anxiety, depression, stress)
- Social environment
- Self-perceived health
Medical experience shows that most people start noticing back pain between the ages of 40 and 60. However, there is little to suggest that these episodes of back pain absent of a known and specific cause are “inevitable.”
Even many of the things we blame them on such as “having slept wrong,” “overdoing it,” or “not warming up enough” can really be blamed on other, more indirect factors such as obesity, poor muscle tone, and stress combined with excessive sitting and poor walking posture and gait.
Tips for Avoiding or Preventing Back Pain
Body awareness, attaining and maintaining physical strength and fitness, and keeping proper posture and gait are essential for avoiding and preventing back pain. Part of this is simply delaying and forestalling the effects of aging.
In addition, here are some actions suggested by the Health.gov website,
One of the best ways to prevent back pain is to keep your back muscles strong. Follow these steps to help protect your back and prevent back pain:
- Do back-strengthening and stretching exercises at least 2 days a week.
- Stand and sit up straight.
- Avoid heavy lifting. If you do lift something heavy, bend your knees and keep your back straight. This way, your leg muscles will do most of the work.
- Get active and eat healthy. Being overweight can strain your back.
Getting active, regular physical activity, and eating choosing healthy foods can help you stay at a healthy weight.
A few additional tips for preventing lower back pain include:
- Reducing stress
- Sleeping on your side
- Quitting smoking
Tips for Self-Care Back Pain Management
About 80 percent of adults experience pain in their back at some point in their lives. And about 90 percent of cases of back pain are temporary, and people make a full functional recovery within 12 weeks of onset of their symptoms.
The good news is that there are effective actions you can take to reduce and manage the pain yourself until it heals.
Advice from the Mayo Clinic recommends that you follow these steps to protect your back from further injury and ease your pain:
- Apply heat for 20 minutes to the affected area, alternating with ice if desired.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication as directed.
- Continue to move as much as possible. Be active in your daily routine and perform low-impact exercises like walking.
- Ask a primary care provider to consider a referral to a physical therapist to provide stretching and other back health exercises.
- Avoid actions that stress your back further, such as bending over to tie your shoes, twisting your entire body, bending from your waist or performing high-impact exercises.
Unfortunately, there are occasions when what you hoped might simply be another bout of temporary lower back pain doesn’t seem to “go away” and persists instead. You may find that the over-the-counter pain relievers and rest aren’t really helping.
If your lower back pain becomes ongoing or chronic, you need expert help. And one of the best “self-care” steps you can take at this point is to seek the help of Pain and Performance Solutions in Santa Rosa.
Relief from Lower Back Pain at Pain and Performance Solutions
When you first come to see us, we’ll work with you to learn everything we can about your back pain, along with any history of discomfort. This is because effectively treating your lower back pain can only start after we understand where and how your pain started.
Once your verbal assessment and history is completed, we conduct a full examination. Together, these steps allow us to determine the best form of treatment to help you along your road to recovery.
Many times, as we experience pain our bodies try to compensate by making subtle adjustments in movement to minimize or avoid the pain. However, what happens then is that, as our bodies actually shift that pain to compensate for our discomfort, it can result in different areas of pain.
Finding chronic pain relief with therapies like Anatomy in Motion, or Aim, along with applying Active Release Techniques® can only begin after we understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.
Your trust in us and your honesty are keys to our success. Ultimately, the only way to achieve total pain relief and recovery is by getting your body healthy and working properly.
Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and answer any questions that you may have.