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 wear and tear. Poor posture, injuries, lifestyle and/or inherited conditions can exacerbate normal degeneration of the vertebrae, intervertebral 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 pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness can occur.

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 physician’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:

  • Loss of water content in the intervertebral discs, reducing disc height and flexibility; this is called degenerative disc disease
  • Diminished bone mass in the vertebrae; this is called osteoporosis
  • Degeneration of the facet joints, the surfaces along the spine where the vertebrae meet and move; this degeneration is called facet disease, or arthritis of the spine

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, hot/cold therapy and others. Should chronic pain persist despite weeks or months of conservative treatment, a physician might suggest surgery as a treatment option. Rather than settle for highly invasive traditional back surgery, tens of thousands of patients have found relief at Laser Spine Institute. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using safe, effective minimally invasive techniques can help you rediscover your life without neck or back pain.