by Dr. Jason Koh,

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As we the age of people, back pain is more likely to be more prevalent and can affect their lives.

The number of adults suffering from back pain grows as they age, and affects about 45 percent of those 65 or over, according to the National Center of Health Statistics.

Research has suggested that the frequency of musculoskeletal discomfort in older adults is ranging from 65% to 85 percent, with 36 percent or 70% seniors experiencing back pain. Back pain caused by low back is the most prevalent health issue for older adults which causes disability and pain according to researchers from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Jason Koh, doctor of osteopathy medicine. (Photo from MemorialCare)

What is the cause of back discomfort?

The majority of people begin developing degenerative discs within their spine around the 4th decade. While discs generally aren’t causing discomfort however, a bulging disc that presses against a nerve can cause pain that radiates through your legs. This is usually called sciatica.

As the triage doctor at the MemorialCare Spine Health Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, I assess patients to identify what the source of their pain is and develop a treatment plan specifically for the condition.

Other pain-producing areas within the spinal column are facet joints. They are the tiny synovial joints located on the back of your spine. As you age, the joints as well as the cartilage inside begin to weaken. As cartilage is lost and bone, the body develops spurs on joints’ edges. This can cause joints stiffness as well as pain from bones grinding. Pain that is triggered by the lumbar facets can be confined to the buttocks, back and the back of the thigh , and the leg. This is referred to as facet-related pain.

Lumbar radiculopathy or sciatica or sciatica, as it is generally referred to, is an inflammation of the nerve. It radiates out from the back to the lower and buttocks. It is typically caused by the compression of one or more of the spinal nerve roots that exit from the lumbar spinal spine.

The compression of the nerve root is often result of bulging discs or enlargement of facet joints, ligaments within the spine or any other lesions that occupy space that cause blood accumulations or tumors.

While it can cause leg pain that is similar to facial related pain mechanism of pain for lumbar radiculopathy and facial referred pain are quite distinct.

What can I do to recover my back health?

There are some ways to ensure that your back is healthy and strong as you get older. Take note of these suggestions:

  • Be active: During this outbreak, a lot of us have been sat at a computer or watching television. Being sedentary can cause further injuries to back pain due to the weakness of muscles and general deconditioning that happens. This is why it is suggested to exercise for those suffering from back pain, but resting in bed isn’t.
  • Choose the right kind of physical therapy: It is among the most effective methods we can slow the progress of degenerative changes occur in the spine that is aging. We offer this here at our Spine Health Center.
  • Utilizing proper body mechanics: Many people mistakenly utilize the back muscles of their bodies to move their backs forward and backward while reaching for objects or just lifting things off the floor. This causes unnecessary stress to the lumbar spine structure. It is better to put the stress to the gluteal or thigh muscles through bent at the hips, and squatting down using the legs for lifting objects off the floor.

Concerning factors

Be on the lookout for these signs:

  • If you experience intense pain radiating down your leg, this is an indication of concern and could require a visit to your doctor for an assessment.
  • If you experience any type of symptoms that are systemic, such as chills or fever There is a concern about a an infection in the spinal cord.
  • Troubles in controlling the bladder or bowels, urinary constipation episodes that are severe or urinary retention may be reason to be concerned.
  • If you experience numbness or tingling in the area between the leg and the groin area, it could be a sign for back pain.

Being aware of your back pain is essential. If you experience any of the above signs, it’s recommended to be examined by your physician particularly if you’re experiencing neurologic symptoms like weakness, numbness or sensations of tingling.

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The senior lifestyle: How senior citizens can do to ensure their backs in good shape

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