Is It Normal to Develop Back Pain As You Get Older?

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Back pain is so common that it’s likely most individuals will experience at least one bout of it in a lifetime. As you age, though, the likelihood of developing chronic or long-term back pain increases with each year.

If you think the problem is reserved for those in the 50+ age group, take note that age-related changes in your back can begin in your 30s and 40s!

Dr. Teddrick Dunson of Thrive Pain Management in Irving, Texas, is a pain management specialist, and he’s highly experienced in treating back pain through examining the conditions that cause it. These factors can range from the wear and tear effects of aging to other underlying causes.

Read on to learn about why your age is a factor in developing back pain.

Understanding age-related back pain

Your spine is a tough structure of bone, cartilage, and ligaments that covers and protects the spinal cord and spinal canal, which contain nerves and cerebrospinal fluid. 24 bones (vertebrae) linked together by tiny facet joints are stacked one on top of the other to form the spinal column.

Small discs act as cushions and shock absorbers between the vertebrae. Strong cords of flexible fibrous connective tissue (ligaments) attach bone-to-bone and provide support for the spine.

Back pain can result from damage to any of these structures and may occur with an injury or, in many cases, the wear and tear that comes along with aging.

Common causes of age-related back pain

Age-related back pain is often caused by underlying issues such as:

Osteoarthritis

Often referred to as “wear and tear arthritis,” osteoarthritis is caused by tissue structures, such as discs and joint cartilage, breaking down over time. As these changes occur, discs lose their cushioning effect, bones begin to wear, and irritated nerves become painfully inflamed.

Herniated discs

Spinal discs contain a gel-like inner core that’s surrounded by a tougher outer core. As you age, discs lose moisture and resilience, which can cause the outer tissue to dry out and crack. This causes the inner core to bulge out (herniate) and place painful pressure on nearby nerves.

Spinal stenosis

Narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) can occur when spinal ligaments thicken and stiffen with age. As the canal narrows, nerves within the space are compressed or pinched and send pain signals to your brain.

Managing and preventing age-related back pain

At Thrive Pain Management, treatment for any type of pain begins with a thorough evaluation that helps us identify the underlying cause of your symptoms. 

Depending on those results, your personalized treatment plan may include:

Our goal at Thrive Pain Management is to relieve your symptoms and treat the underlying condition. We’re also very committed to helping you form habits that can prevent age-related back pain from interfering with your life, which include:

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Dunson today for further information on treating your age-related back pain. We’re here to help you feel and function better, so you can go out and enjoy life!

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