Treat Your Age-Related Back Pain
The spine is made up of 24 bones that stretch from the tailbone to the skull. These bones encase the spinal cord. Within the spinal cord are vertebrae bones that are connected by small joints called facets. Discs that are filled with a gel-like substance are located in between the vertebrae to serve as a cushion.
There are three primary reasons that age-related back pain may occur. The first is degenerative changes in joints and discs or the loss of resilience and moisture that makes the discs lose the substance that makes them absorb shock. The second is spinal stenosis, which occurs when the canal that encases the spinal cord becomes narrow due to thickened ligaments, arthritic facet joints or disc degeneration. Lastly, Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward onto the vertebrae located below it.
8 things you can do to relieve age-related back pain
1. Move more. Being physically active helps keep the back muscles strong and flexible to reduce pain. As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you will lose it.
2. Take pain relieving medications. Over-the-counter pain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen can temporarily reduce pain. It should be noted that opioid pain medications are not recommended for chronic pain.
3. Seek physical therapy treatment. Performing exercises to improve balance, strength, and flexibility in the back and core will help relieve pain and make the spine more resilient.
4. Use cold therapy. When back pain first occurs, try applying an ice pack for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off to reduce inflammation or muscle spasms. Don’t have an ice pack? A bag of frozen fruit or vegetables will work.
5. Apply heat. After several days of using cold therapy, switch to heat, which can help relax muscles, stimulate blood flow and reduce tension. Lie on a heating pad or take a warm bath. Do not fall asleep on the heating pad and be sure to stretch after heat treatments.
6. Rest. Rest is the best way to reduce inflammation and recover from injuries. Incorporate gentle stretching into restful periods to speed up the recovery process.
7. Acupuncture. Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into particular points of the body to relieve pain. This should be done by a professional.
8. Osteopathic manipulation. Chiropractors or osteopathic doctors are available to mobilize, adjust, stimulate and massage the spine to reduce pain.