Ways to Help Get Rid of Back Pain in Older Adults

Back Pain in Older Adults

While aging comes with good things like wisdom and memorable life experiences, for many adults, aging also ushers in problems with the spine and joints. There are a variety of symptoms that you may experience with spine and joint problems. There are also different treatment options.


Back pain symptoms range from slight muscle aches to a burning, shooting or stabbing sensation. When you begin to experience back pain, it may radiate down one or both of your legs. If you bend, lift, stand, twist or walk, the pain may become more intense.


Why Does Back Pain Develop with Age?


As people age, wear and tear may cause degeneration of the spine and joints. Bulging or ruptured discs may also develop as you age. The discs of the spine cushion the bones. The material is soft, which means that it can protrude out or even rupture and put pressure on a nerve.


Older people are more likely to experience injuries. If you’ve ever pulled a muscle in your back or suffered from a sprained knee or ankle joint, the former injury may cause you to experience pain in the joint later with age.


Common Sources of Back Pain in Older Adults


Arthritis is also linked to aging. If you develop osteoarthritis, it may affect your lower back. When arthritis develops in the spine, it may cause the area around your spinal cord to narrow. This is a condition known as spinal stenosis.


Osteoporosis is another condition that may cause back pain. With this condition, the spine’s vertebrae may form breaks that are painful if the bones become permeable and fragile.


Some people suffer from vertebral compression fractures that cause pain. This condition happens when parts of the spine, such as the bony block or vertebral body, collapses. Vertebral compression fractures are painful. They can cause deformity as well as a loss of height.


Nerve root irritation is often caused by compression. When a nerve root becomes compressed, it develops inflammation. This results in symptoms like intense pain in the back, shoulders, arms and legs. If you have a nerve that’s compressed, the pain may become more intense with certain activities. In some cases, simple and sudden movements like coughing or sneezing may bring on pain. With nerve root irritation, you may experience weakness in your arms or legs or suffer from a loss of your reflexes.


What Should Older Adults Do to Help Their Back Pain?


Older adults can treat their pain using a variety of methods. Physical therapy may be helpful, or you may prefer to treat your pain using medication. If you work with a physical therapist, they are likely to assess how you move, sit and stand. They’ll teach you how to maintain proper alignment to decrease back strain. Physical therapists will instruct you on how to do exercises that work to strengthen your core muscles, which support the back.


When your back hurts, your first inclination may be to rest it, but research shows that lying still can worsen your pain. If you’re suffering from a severe issue like spinal stenosis, you may need to consider a surgical treatment.


The Minuteman Procedure


Advancements in back pain treatment include the Minuteman procedure. The Minuteman consists of a fusion device in addition to a spacing unit that works to stabilize the spine in people who are experiencing back, leg, buttock or foot pain because of conditions like:


  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Trauma
  • Tumor


The Minuteman procedure not only treats back pain in older adults, but it is also an alternate option for classic fusion surgery. It’s less invasive and recommended for those who shouldn’t attempt traditional surgery. If you have a condition that makes it dangerous for you to be placed under general anesthesia, then consider the Minuteman procedure to treat your pain.


How does the Minuteman procedure work? 

The equipment involved includes bilateral locking plates, a foxed plate, a locking hex nut and a core threaded post. Medical devices that are manufactured to support your body on the inside are always packaged to ensure sterility. The device system comes in different sizes to ensure a perfect fit based on your spine’s anatomy.


Before starting the procedure, an attendant will walk the patient into the operating room and prepare them. The attendant will soak gauze in an antiseptic solution and administer a local anesthetic for numbing purposes. An x-ray will be used to determine where to position the Minuteman device.


The patient will lay facedown on the operating table. With the patient lying still, the surgeon will form a small incision. The area will be dilated with several tubes to expand the space and give the surgeon access to the muscles that are located around the spine. A small tube will be used to direct the Minuteman devices and place a bone graft.


After the procedure is done, the surgeon will remove the equipment used to place the support system and close the incision. The Minuteman procedure only takes the surgeon an hour to complete.


Traditional fusion surgery may have a lengthy recovery time while the Minuteman permits patients to continue with regular activities in 24 hours.


Living Without Pain


Back and joint pain can impact your quality of life. It’s important to obtain a professional diagnosis to determine the cause of your pain. Once you know why you have pain, you can make the best treatment decision. Dr. Macrinici specializes in helping people ease their pain and reclaim their life. Contact the office at Advanced Pain & Spine Management to schedule an appointment and take the first step in getting rid of back pain.


Improving Patients’ Quality of Life Through Personalized Care

If you’re struggling with neck, back, or hip pain or any other spine related issues, schedule an appointment with us today to get back to living your life the way you’d like to.