Age Related Back Pain

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Age Related Back Pain

August 30
15:28 2017

When I was much younger, I often heard others say that growing old is hard and it hurts. I never thought much about what they said until I began getting older and experienced the aches and pains of growing older for myself.

One of the more common complaints of older people are sore and aching backs. Trust me I know exactly what they meant. I herniated my L4 disc when I was about 17-18 years of age and it’s bothered me my entire life. Then in 2005, I was involved an auto accident that damaged 5 discs in my neck, 5 more discs in the middle of my back and left me with a wedge-compression of a vertebra also in the middle of my back. Added all up, I have 11 of my 23 spinal discs and one vertebra damaged.

Additionally, x-rays show that I have a lot of calcium build up on parts of my vertebra. One doctor took a look at my spinal x-ray and said it showed signs of a lot of injury. Consequently, I live with severe back pain 24/7 since that accident in April of 2005. I suffer from pinched nerves in my neck multiple times a day. I also get severe muscle spasms in the right side of my neck and right shoulder as well as nightly spasms in my back that draw my shoulder blades to close they touch.

But not every old person has gone through what I’ve gone through, but millions of them still suffer from back pain.

So, what are the more common causes of back pain?

The most obvious is osteoporosis, which results in thinning and frail vertebrae that can end up compressing or collapsing.

Arthritis is another common source of back pain. Most people think of arthritis as a condition that affects the hands, knees and hips but many older adults also suffer from arthritis in the spine.

Two common causes of back pain that many good chiropractors treat are degenerative discs and spinal stenosis. The two are somewhat related.

As we age, the cushions between our vertebrae, discs, wear out, flatten and lose their cushion. This is called degenerative disc disease. If it gets bad enough, it can result in the vertebra basically resting on and rubbing against each other and this can be quite painful.

One of the common conditions that comes from degenerative discs is spinal stenosis. According to one medical site:

“In the medical field, stenosis means the abnormal narrowing of a body channel. When combined with the word spinal, it defines a narrowing of the bone channel occupied by the spinal nerves or the spinal cord.”

Spinal stenosis often leads to pinched nerves that radiate out from the spinal cord. In many cases, pinched nerves from spinal stenosis is found in the lower back, but it can occur in any area of the spine from the base of the skull to the tailbone.

What happens when these nerves are pinched? First, it can be quite painful – I often describe it as being stabbed with an ice pick with an electrical charge. However, it can also result in weakness or numbness in the affected areas.

In my case, when the nerve in my lower back gets impinged from the herniated disc, I first feel pain that radiates down my one leg. On several occasions, the pain turned to numbness and lost all feeling and control of my leg. In my neck, it often causes a partial numbness down the inside of the right arm into my middle, fourth and little fingers. The best way I can describe it is like the numbing tingle you get after your foot ‘goes to sleep’ and then begins to get the feeling back. Trust me, it makes typing for a living difficult at times.

In many cases there are treatments that can help, but it depends on what’s causing one’s back pain and the extent of the condition. Then again, some issues causing back pain are not readily treatable, as in my case, and one has to learn to cope or deal with the pain and limitations.

Yes, getting old is hard and painful, but then there’s only one other alternative.

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