Causes of back pain in the elderly include spinal stenosis and other conditions
As we get older, back pain and related symptoms can become more likely to develop, having a frustrating and disruptive effect on our quality of life. There are a number of different reasons why back pain can occur more easily in the elderly, but one of the biggest contributors is spinal anatomy losing water content and becoming less flexible. These changes can in turn make the parts of the spine, such as the joints and discs, less able to withstand the pressure they are being placed under on a day-to-day basis and become more prone to becoming injured or displaced.
The good news is that back pain related to degenerative changes does not have to be debilitating and negatively affect your life. A great first step in finding relief is to educate yourself as a patient and learn about the specific conditions that are often the underlying cause of back pain in older patients.
Specific causes of back pain
Here are some of the most common causes of back pain that older individuals can encounter:
- Spinal stenosis. This is a term for narrowing of the central canal that protects the spinal cord, or of the small openings that allow the nerve roots to exit. This narrowing can cause nerve compression that is often the source of back pain. Spinal stenosis can be caused by many spine conditions, including the ones listed below.
- Degenerative disc disease and other disc problems. When the discs that cushion the vertebrae begin to naturally break down, it can result in loss of disc height, bulges or herniation of disc material through the outer layer. These disc problems can all result in narrowing of the spinal column and potentially painful nerve compression.
- Osteoarthritis. The vertebral facet joints, like all joints in the body, are prone to arthritis, which can reduce flexibility and lead to stiffness and soreness in the spine.
- Bone spurs. These growths are made by the body as a natural healing and stabilizing mechanism, but should they come into contact with a nerve or other soft tissue, back pain can result.
Treating back pain related to a spine condition
As there are so many potential causes of back pain in the elderly, a trip to the physician is required to determine if a patient has a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or any other form of spine degeneration. Upon diagnosis of a degenerative spine condition, treatment usually begins with conservative treatment options like rest, over-the-counter medication, physical therapy and low-impact exercise. While these and other therapies are often effective, spine surgery can also become a consideration in more serious cases that do not respond to conservative treatment.
To learn more about treatment for back pain, contact the team at Laser Spine Institute today. We are the leaders in minimally invasive spine surgery and have helped thousands of patients find relief at our state-of-the-art outpatient centers across the United States.
We’ll be glad to help you receive your free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.