Is It Normal to Develop Back Pain As You Get Older?
As you get older, there are certain things you expect as part of the process. Your memory may not be as sharp, or wrinkles and gray hair may affect your daily grooming routine. Once you pass the age of about 40, occasional back pain may join the litany of complaints associated with aging. In fact, as many as 85% of Americans experience neck and back pain at some point in their lives.
If you’re feeling stiffness and soreness from time to time, but they rarely interfere with your daily activities, you’re probably experiencing normal effects of aging. When you start seeing changes in your routine due to back pain, however, it may point to something beyond normal aging.
Let’s examine what’s normal — and what’s not — when it comes to back pain.
Causes of back pain
The reason why your back hurts if it can be identified could help you decide whether medical attention is needed. Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint exactly why you’re feeling pain, while at other times, the reason may be obvious.
When it comes to getting older, osteoarthritis, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis are the major players in the onset of back pain.
Perhaps the most common wear-and-tear condition, osteoarthritis inflicts changes to joints because of time and use. In your back, the cartilage starts to deteriorate, and the discs between your vertebrae dry out and lose thickness. These changes can cause inflammation and nerve pressure, leading to back pain.
Thinning isn’t the only problem discs face. The tough outer shell can become brittle, causing ruptures that allow the jelly-like inner tissue to escape. While it’s possible for a disc to herniate and heal without symptoms, at other times, the condition crowds and irritates nerves.
Each vertebra has a complex shape that permits movement as well as transit and protection for nerves. The spaces within these bones sometimes have little extra room, so when the spaces get smaller, once again nerves may be irritated. Inflammation or bone spurs could be the problem.
When back pain becomes urgent
It’s fine to cope with minor aches and pains with self-care, but since the spine is a critical system in your body for movement and nerve passage, there are times when back pain demands extra attention. Morning stiffness is one thing, but when you’re unable to function due to back pain, you need medical attention.
In addition, if your back pain is accompanied by other symptoms, it could indicate a more serious issue. See us at Valley Neurology and Pain if back pain appears alongside symptoms such as:
- Pain that’s more severe when lying down for the night, or during prolonged periods of sitting or standing
- Referred pain, away from your back, such as through the buttocks and down the legs
- Tingling or numbness in similar areas away from your back
- Muscle weakness
- Back pain due to an injury
- Persistent pain that doesn’t improve with rest
When back pain becomes chronic, it can add stress to your life, even when you’re still able to function. Our back pain specialists at Valley Neurology and Pain can help you get to the bottom of your problem, and devise treatment necessary to restore your lifestyle.
At Valley Neurology and Pain, with three convenient Arizona locations in Phoenix and Peoria, you are never a number. Your consultation, examination, and treatment are always administered by a highly-qualified physician. When it comes to back pain, we have four experienced physicians who can help you, Dr. Toure Knighton, Dr. Dinesh Chinthagada, Dr. Jin Yuk, and Dr. David Kush.
Call the nearest office at 602-795-0207, send us a message on our website to request an appointment today.