Chronic Back Pain in Seniors: 5 Easy Treatments


Elderlink Home Care, Inc.

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Elderlink Home Care, Inc.

Posted on

Apr 09, 2024


Colorado - Denver Metro

Older adults can experience pain related to many different conditions. Back pain, in particular, has a variety of possible causes, though the most common causes of chronic back pain in seniors are osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. People over the age of 60 are more likely to experience back pain related to the degeneration of the joints in the spine. The good news is that there are also a variety of simple solutions that may help ease this pain.

Sometimes the simplest answer is the best, and in some cases, one little change can make all the difference. For others, a few adjustments to their habits or lifestyle can ease the discomfort.

There are other options besides surgery and prescription drugs.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is a general term that means the swelling of a joint. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage at the joint wears down, leaving the bones without any protection against each other; it is the most common type of arthritis. It can occur at any joint in the body, though it is common in the spine.

When this happens, or if the cartilage is chipped or damaged on one side, the injured cartilage or the neighboring bone rub against the bone, causing further injury. This, along with the accompanying joint inflammation and muscle spasm, cause back pain.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

This is a narrowing of the bone channel occupied by the spinal cord and nerves, which puts pressure on the nerves and can result in tingling, numbness, or pain. Spinal stenosis is related to osteoarthritis and degeneration of the spine and could show up in the fifth decade of life and continue through the years.

When the lower back develops lumbar stenosis, the spinal nerve roots in the low back become compressed and produce symptoms of sciatica—tingling, weakness, or numbness that radiates from the low back and into the buttocks and legs. This often gets worse with activity, which leads people to avoid movement and exercise.

Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle leads to additional health issues.

Symptoms of Chronic Back Pain in Seniors

Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:
• Pain that is most pronounced in the mornings and evenings.
• Pain that interrupts sleep.
• Pain after activity.
• Tender when pressed against.
• Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the back (being unable to twist or bend comfortably at the waist).

Spinal stenosis often features slightly different symptoms:
• Leg and lower back pain after even a short walk.
• Lower back pain that is quickly relieved by sitting down.
• Weakness, numbness, and tingling that moves from the low back into the buttocks and legs (sciatica).

In both cases, symptoms ranging from mild to severe may start slowly and increase over time.

Simple, Natural Treatments for Chronic Back Pain in Seniors

1. New, High-Quality Mattresses:

All mattresses are not created equal! A high-quality mattress can offer huge relief for those experiencing back pain since old, worn-out mattresses do little to support the back or neck.

2. Better Diet:

Healthy fats (flaxseed oil, avocado oil, olive oil, etc), fruits, vegetables, nuts, ginger, garlic, oatmeal, and lean protein sources all help reduce inflammation. Meanwhile, dairy, pastries, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, refined grains, and any heavily processed foods are best to avoid because they increase inflammation in muscles and joints.

3. Yoga:

Many older adults have found the practice of yoga to work in their favor, particularly by practicing restorative yoga, a deeply relaxing approach to the traditional practice. Depending upon your range of motion and fitness level, you might also choose a gentle hatha yoga or chair yoga class. Studies have shown positive outcomes like decreased pain, increased the range of motion and a greater sense of well-being for people with back pain. John Hopkins offers more tips for doing yoga with arthritis.

4. Acupuncture:

This is a gentle, alternative medicine approach to help ease and treat the aches and pains in aging bodies. Instead of treating symptoms, acupuncture helps treat the pain source naturally, without the use of drugs.

5. Massage Therapy:

Pills can cause many side effects and long-term health problems when taken too frequently. Massage therapy improves circulation and reduces inflammation and swelling; studies have shown it to be effective in reducing chronic back pain, which may reduce a patient’s need for pain pills.

Treating chronic back pain in the elderly doesn’t always mean resorting to prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. There are all-natural alternatives that your caregiver may be able to help you try. Contact us today to learn more about in-home senior care.

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Local Services By This Author

Elderlink Home Care, Inc.

Non-Medical 9878 West Belleview Avenue, Littleton, Colorado, 80123

Elderlink Home Care, Inc. has been providing metro-area seniors with access to superior home care services for over 35 years. As a family business, we have spent decades perfecting the art of home care and learning everything we need to know to provide you with the best service possible at the best price available. Our services will allow you to age with dignity and control in the comfort of your own home.