What is the relationship between aging and back pain?

Aging is an unavoidable risk factor for the development of spinal conditions that tend to produce neck or back pain. By middle age, most people begin to experience a breakdown of the spinal anatomy, brought on by everyday strain on the spine. Poor posture, injuries, lifestyle and inherited conditions can exacerbate normal degeneration of the vertebrae, spinal discs and the joints where vertebrae meet and move.

While most spinal conditions associated with aging never produce symptoms, abnormalities within the spine can lead to compression of nearby nerves or the spinal cord itself. If this happens, potentially debilitating symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness can occur. Read on to learn more about the impact that aging has on the spine as well as treatments for debilitating spinal conditions related to aging.

Effects of aging on the spinal anatomy

Should neck or back pain arise as a result of a condition such as a herniated disc, a bulging disc or spinal stenosis, a doctor’s diagnosis will likely include a determination of whether the abnormality is related to one or more of the following effects of aging on the spinal anatomy:

  • Degenerative disc disease — which is a loss of water content in the spinal discs, reducing disc height and flexibility
  • Osteoporosis — which describes diminished bone mass in the vertebrae
  • Facet disease (arthritis of the spine) — which is the degeneration of the facet joints, the surfaces along the spine where the vertebrae meet and move

Treating spinal conditions related to aging

While none of these spinal conditions related to aging are curable, the symptoms they produce can normally be managed through the use of conservative treatments such as physical therapy, pain medication, behavior modification and hot or cold therapy. Should chronic pain persist despite several weeks or months of conservative treatment, a doctor might suggest surgery as a treatment option.

Rather than settle for highly invasive traditional open back surgery, more than 75,000 patients have found relief at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us to learn how our outpatient procedures can help you rediscover your life without back pain. Our procedures are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open back procedures and are able to have patients up and walking within a few hours of surgery.^

At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed in state-of-the-art facilities that are built around patient-centered care. To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a no-cost MRI review.* We can help guide you on your next step to find pain relief.