Other Conditions That Cause Back Pain In Older Adults
We often see a range of less serious but still painful spine conditions in seniors. Most patients with these conditions will not require surgery. Physical therapy, medication, injectable anesthetics, or a combination of treatments usually can control symptoms.
- Degenerative disc disease, which can cause whole spine pain, and lumbar arthritis, which usually causes low-back pain, commonly develop with age and are considered wear-and-tear conditions.
- Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of the joints that connect your spine and pelvis. This condition can cause pain in the low back, glutes, and upper legs.
- Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that causes patients spines to become inflexible, resulting in a continual hunched forward position and spine pain.
- We also check for adult degenerative scoliosis and kyphosis, spine-curving conditions that can result in back pain and weakness in the lower extremities.
Why Is Lower Back Pain Such A Common Problem
The bottom part of your back typically has just five vertebrae fewer than your neck and mid-back. And these vertebrae do a lot of heavy lifting! Your lower back is where your spine connects to your pelvis, bearing the weight of your upper body. This area experiences a lot of movement and stress, which may lead to wear, tear and injuries.
Surgery For Lower Back Pain
Because the vast majority of patients recover from their low back pain with little help from a doctor, the rationale behind choosing surgery must be convincing. Eighty percent of patients with sciatica recover eventually without surgery.
Severe progressive nerve problems, bowel or bladder dysfunction and the cauda equina syndrome make up the most clear-cut indications for back surgery. Back surgery will also be considered if the patients signs and symptoms correlate well with studies such as MRI or electromyogram .
In the most serious cases, when the condition does not respond to other therapies, surgery may well be necessary to relieve pain caused by back problems. Some common procedures include:
- Discectomy, such as a or removal of a portion of a
- a bone graft that promotes the vertebrae to fuse together
- removal of the lamina to create more space and reduce irritation and inflammation
References and useful links
- 1, 2. Excerpted from Low Back Pain Fact Sheet, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health
- Low Back Pain Fact Sheet, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health. Reviewed, July 26, 2003.
- Deyo RA, Weinstein JN, Low Back Pain, N Engl J Med, Vol 344, No. 5, Feb 1, 2001, pp 363-370.
You May Like: What’s Good For Back Pain Over The Counter
How Goodpath Can Help
There are many causes of low back pain. With treatment, it is possible to lessen the pain or even stop it altogether.
GoodPath uses an integrative, personalized treatment approach for low back pain. Our back pain program includes therapeutic video exercises, mind-body techniques, home-delivered supplements and medicines, and nutritional support. You will also have the support of one of our Goodpath coaches.
The first step is to complete our brief assessment. Based on your responses, we will tailor a back pain program just for you. Why dont you get started?
When Should You See A Doctor For Your Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can manifest itself in various ways, ranging from a dull ache to excruciating pain. It can last from days to weeks. There are a variety of home treatments you can try to alleviate the pain, depending on the severity. For instance, when your lower back initially begins to ache, you can start by taking over-the-counter pain medication or using ice/heat on your back for the first 48 hours.
Acute lower back pain most often means discomfort or pain that occurs suddenly. Acute back pain may be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, excessive activity, unnatural movements, or improper lifting.
Most lower back pain is classified as acute, which usually lasts no more than six weeks. The underlying source of the pain doesn’t always cause major or long-term concern.
In contrast, chronic back pain may be life-threatening. A person who has chronic pain is at risk because the symptoms are strong enough to have an effect on their health, movement, and quality of life for a long time.
Unlike acute back pain, chronic lower back pain develops gradually and lasts for more than six weeks. Chronic back pain may also be recurring, which means that it will go away for a while but then return.
But how do you know it’s time to give up using home remedies and visit a medical professional?
The following warning signs are indicators that it is time to schedule that appointment:
Recommended Reading: Is Acupuncture Effective For Lower Back Pain
The Tricky One: Cancer As A Cause Of Low Back Pain And The Necessity Of Testing Just In Case When The Symptoms Justify It
Sorry I have to use the C word I know its kind of a bummer. But C happens.
A few cancers in their early stages can be hard to tell apart from ordinary back pain a bone cancer in the vertebrae, for instance and these create a frustrating diagnostic problem. They are too rare for doctors to inflict cancer testing on every low back pain patient just in case. And yet the possibility cannot be dismissed, either! This is an unsolveable problem.
Most cancers and ominous problems will inevitably start to cause other, distinctive, ominous symptoms, and it wont be long before someone catches on that theres more going on than just back pain. So it truly is an extraordinary circumstance for back pain to be ominous without causing other symptoms that raise the alarm.
For example, in 2017, the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a creepy case of slowly growing neurological deficit caused by a very stealthy cancer, which took a lot of diagnostic effort to solve.shudder So sneaky cancers happen but they are crazy rare.
This is an unholy combination of factors: the exact same symptoms can have either an extremely rare but serious cause, or an extremely common but harmless cause that can be greatly aggravated by excessive alarm!
I told you I was sick!
one of the all-time great epitaphs
How Tria Neck And Back Strengthening Program Helps You Heal Your Back Pain
What many people dont realize about chronic back pain is that it can often be solved without surgery. Yes, sometimes surgery is the suggestion but only after non-surgical options have stopped working.
At TRIA Neck and Back Strengthening Program our spine strengthening program focuses on active physical therapy which focuses on movement-based activities. This is a proven method for healing chronic back pain just ask any of the 200,000-plus patients weve worked with over the past 30 years.
Through this program, youll do an intake with a doctor or physical therapist who specializes in spine care and chronic pain. Theyll work with you to determine the best pain management treatment plan. Then youll work one-on-one with a physical therapist.
Most programs are six to 12 weeks long, and your therapy happens at one of our facilities that features state-of-the-art medical exercise equipment. As part of your care, youll learn about what chronic pain is and how the brain processes it.
Youll also focus on body mechanics such as proper lifting, standing and sleeping all the things that can contribute to back pain but you probably dont think about. And as you progress, youll learn how to continually improve and maintain your back strength on you own so you can keep back pain at bay long-term.
Want to learn more about TRIA Neck and Back Strengthening Program? Watch this short video.
Don’t Miss: What Kind Of Bed Is Good For Lower Back Pain
What To Do Following Back Pain:
The first thing you need to do is to understand the injury, if you exercise very intensely then you might have just injured your back due to squats, deadlifts, back movements, or anything that causes your back to be in a compromised position. So the first thing is to figure out whether or not this back pain is that serious. You can do this by moving around or trying to hang from a pull-up bar to see if the pain is in the lower back.
The next thing to do is take some anti-inflammation medication and get a lot of rest. However, rest can actually cause more harm than good if you do not give your back the chance to move around. Getting some blood circulation to the back is extremely important, so make sure that you move around as much as you can and get back to your daily activities as soon as possible.
Can Lower Back Pain Be A Sign Of Something Serious Like Cancer
Lower back pain can be related to cancer. In fact, it is one of the first symptoms of prostate cancer when it metastasizes and creates lesions. Almost any cancer can spread to the back and some, like sarcoma, can originate in the back. Be cautious, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms besides lower back pain. Talk to your doctor if you have additional symptoms or concerns.
Recommended Reading: What Can You Do For Lower Back Pain
You Have A Fever And A Dull Ache
A fever, when accompanied by a dull ache across your lower back or along the sides of your back between the ribs and hips, could be a sign of a kidney or bladder infection that needs immediate attention and treatment with antibiotics, Dr. Rosser says.
Keep in mind, though, that as the pregnancy advances, the growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder, so frequent or urgent urination is common and normal. But if these symptoms also include painful urination, blood in the urine, chills, or fever, these may be signs of kidney or urinary tract issues, and treatment may be needed. In some cases, bladder infections can cause the uterus to contract, so see your doctor for a prompt diagnosis.
Lower Back Pain And Cancer
Cancer involving the lumbar spine is not a common cause of back pain. However, in people who have a prior history of cancer, for example, in the breast or prostate, or who have weight loss or loss of appetite along with back pain cancer needs to be considered.
Night pain can be a clue to cancer in the spine. A benign tumor called osteoid osteoma, which most often affects young people, causes pain that tends to respond well to aspirin. Multiple myeloma is a malignancy that occurs when the plasma cells in the bone marrow begin spreading uncontrollably. It is most common in older people, and can cause pain in many parts of the spine. When tumor or infection are suspected, blood tests may be ordered, including a CBC , sedimentation rate , and protein electrophoresis .
Read Also: How To Relieve Middle Back Pain
You’ve Been In Pain For Over A Week
Most back pain will subside after a few days, but if you’ve been experiencing pain for over a week, then it’s time to call a doctor. Your doctor will perform any examinations or tests required to help get to the bottom of your pain before it could become a bigger problem. As is the case with many health conditions, prevention and addressing problems early is key.
Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.
Read Also: Can Ibd Cause Back Pain
When You Should Go To The Er For Back Pain
If your back pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, head to your closest emergency room because you could be dealing with a more serious condition or injury:
- Sudden spike in pain, discomfort, weakness or numbness
- Loss of bladder function
- Unexplainable weight loss
- The pain results from a fall or severe blow to your back
If you experience any of these symptoms, its a good idea to talk to your doctor so you can determine next steps for managing pain.
Herniated Disk In The Lower Back
A herniated, ruptured, or “slipped” disc means that a vertebral disc one of the soft pads of tissue that sit between each of the vertebral bones has becomes squeezed out of shape. Its cushioning material has been forced against, and possibly through, the ring of fibrous tissue that normally contains it. This causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs.
The normal aging process causes the discs lose moisture and become thinner, making them more vulnerable to “slipping.”
Most susceptible are men from ages 30 to 50. Smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and improper lifting are also risk factors.
Symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the back, leg, and foot.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, neurological examination, and MRI scan.
Treatment begins with rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and sometimes epidural steroid injections into the back to ease pain and inflammation.
Surgery to remove the herniated part of the disc the part that was squeezed out of place can also be helpful.
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, moderate back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that gets worse when sitting, leg weakness
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Don’t Miss: What Helps Relieve Upper Back Pain
When Is Lower Back Pain Potentially A Sign Of A More Serious Condition
What if your lower back pain persists? Is that potentially a sign of a more serious condition? How can you know when your lower back pain has progressed from a little annoyance to a full-blown emergency?
Well, if your lower back pain lasts longer than two weeks and prevents you from engaging in your typical daily activities, you should contact your primary care physician for treatment. Although lower back pain is quite prevalent, some symptoms are abnormal and need immediate care.
It is important to seek medical attention if you also have the following symptoms:
Pain that radiates down the front, side, or back of your leg, or it might feel like it’s confined to your lower back
Lower back pain, pelvic pain, and hip pain due to muscle spasms and tension
When physical activity aggravates the pain
An inability to maintain a comfortable upright posture
You’re Running A Fever
The flu can definitely make you run a fever and achiness, including in your back. However, if the fever is unresponsive to standard OTC medications, you could have a serious infection that needs treatment immediately. If you go to a doctor and they find an infection, they may prescribe antibiotics and a few days rest.
You May Like: What To Do When You Have Severe Back Pain
The Worst Back Pain Is Rarely The Scariest
People understandably assume that the worst back pain is the scariest. In fact, pain intensity is a poor indicator of back pain ominousness, and some of the worst causes are actually the least painful . For instance, someone could experience the symptoms of cauda equinae syndrome, and be in real danger of a serious and permanent injury to their spine, but have surprisingly little pain even none at all in some cases!
Meanwhile, many non-dangerous problems can cause amazingly severe back pain. A muscle cramp is a good analogy just think about how painful a Charley horse is! Regardless of whats actually going on in there, muscle pain is probably the main thing that back pain patients are feeling. The phenomenon of trigger points tiny muscle cramps, basically could be the entire problem, or a complication thats more painful and persistent than the original problem. Its hard to overstate how painful trigger points can be, but they are not dangerous to anything but your comfort.
Fractures And Lower Back Pain
are often very difficult pain problems and indicate the possible presence of . In patients with severe osteoporosis, spinal fractures can occur with no early warning and no significant trauma the patient does not have to fall to fracture a vertebrae.
Patients with spinal compression fractures experience spasms and, often, very high pain levels.
In patients with low back pain where the cause is difficult to determine, especially for elderly patients with osteoporosis, a fracture in the sacrum may be the cause of the pain. A standard X-ray or bone scan may not show a sacral fracture. Imaging techniques such as CT scan or MRI can often reveal these fractures.
It is very important that patients with acute lumbar compression fractures be tested for osteoporosis. A bone density study is needed, unless the patient has no other osteoporosis risk factors and has had a very high impact fracture. Studies have shown that many patients with fractures in the U.S. are discharged from hospitals with no plans for management of their bone density problems, which then are left to worsen.
Although pain can be very intense, it is best for patients with lumbar fracture to resume activity as soon as possible. This is especially true for elderly patients, who can too easily become weakened, and develop other complications, if mobility is reduced for too long. may be needed for pain control, for as brief a period as possible.
Recommended Reading: When Should I Go To The Doctor For Back Pain
What Type Of Doctor Should I See For Back Pain
This depends on your condition or symptoms. If you have no obvious injury that would explain your pain, you may want to start by seeing a . This is a specialist in physical medicine who can diagnose back pain and determine whether nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy may help. Depending on those findings, a physiatrist may also refer you to a , doctor or other type of back specialist, , for additional discussion.