Adults aged 50 years or older are prone to back aches and pain, especially in the lower part of the back. They may start experiencing soreness in their back and sometimes even abdominal pain as their spines mature. Let’s try to understand the three most common causes of back pain after age 50.
Degenerative Discs and Joints — This happens when the spinal discs wear down, commonly seen in older adults.
Spinal stenosis – This occurs when the tube your spinal cord passes becomes too small. It causes pressure on the nerves and nerve roots, causing numbness in the legs.
Osteoarthritis – This is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage deteriorates, resulting in joint pain and stiffness.
Here are 10 things older adults can do to help ensure a healthy back.
1. Increase Bodily Movement
Remember that “movement is like the fuel and lotion” for the backbone. However, older adults are more prone to less bodily activity because of various illnesses and age-related factors. The more you move, the better your back will feel. By staying active and exercising your back, you can ensure that your ache episodes heal faster.
2. Enroll In An Exercise Program
Your physician can probably prescribe a healthy exercise program to help you boost strength, stay balanced, and improve flexibility. Try to work on your belly muscles, which means your core strength.
3. Engage In Brain Activity
Pain specialists have long recognized that pain is more than just a sensation. How your brain recognizes and processes pain signals affects how you feel pain. That means the brain can be trained to reduce or ignore pain signals. Here are some techniques to try:
Mindful Pain Therapy. Mindfulness and meditation often require calm, coordinated breathing and concentration to help minimize the sensation of pain. It also helps you relax.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This treatment can help you change how you think about pain and find new ways to deal with it.
4. Stretch Your Hamstrings Regularly
Tight hamstrings often give rise to lower back pain. When the hamstring muscles are overly tense, they pressure the lower back and sacroiliac joints, increasing pain. Hamstring stretches should be done gently, at least twice daily, for half a minute each time.
5. Heat Therapy
Consider using a heating pad and warm showers after two or three days. This can relax your back muscles and increase blood flow. However, ensure that you don’t get burnt.
6. Get Enough Rest
Our ability to heal from injuries slows as we age. That’s why it’s important to take time to rest. However, mild stretching for the back is preferable in between bed rest. Any bed rest over 48 hours might lengthen and intensify your back discomfort and may be a hindrance to a quick recovery.
9. Cold Therapy
Cold treatment aids in the reduction of inflammation and discomfort. Wrapping ice in a towel or a cold gel pack is an option.
10. Try Treatments
If traditional therapy fails to relieve age-related back pain, consider alternative treatments such as:
Acupuncture: Microscopic needles are inserted into the skin at certain points on the body. It may help relieve chronic pain by encouraging the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Massage Therapy: Doctors and chiropractors (OD) move, adjust, massage, and stimulate the spine and surrounding tissues with their hands.
Increase endorphins levels: Endorphins are hormones that your body produces naturally. Many people don’t know that endorphins can help block pain signals from being recorded in the brain. Endorphins also contribute to anxiety, stress, and depression, all of which are linked to chronic back pain and often make it worse. Aerobic exercise, massage, and meditation are some of the activities that can increase endorphin levels.
If your pain becomes chronic and persistent, do not ignore the symptoms and consult a doctor.
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