Is Back Pain Normal As You Age?

The prevalence of back pain among adults of all ages in the United States is nothing short of eye-opening. A whopping 80% of adults report having low back pain at some point in their lives. And 20% of those who suffer acute back pain go on to struggle with chronic pain that persists for more than 12 weeks. 

Of the many factors that place you more at risk for developing back pain, age ranks at, or near, the top.

At Failed Back Surgery Institute, Dr. Scott Smith and our team understand the devastating impact that nagging back pain can have on your life. In fact, our entire practice is designed to provide our patients in Weatherford, Texas, with the services they need to tackle back and neck pain of all kinds, including age-related back pain.

Here’s a look at why — spoiler alert — back pain may be more common as you age, but we certainly don’t consider any back pain normal, no matter your age.

Age-related risks that lead to back pain

At the heart of your musculoskeletal system lies your spine, which provides the foundational support for your body, while also providing you with mobility, balance, and range of motion. To call your back the hardest working area of your body is no stretch at all, given the enormous role it plays in your ability to make your way through the world.

As with most systems, the wear-and-tear over the years can add up, causing just minor breakdowns at first, but as these accumulate, the effects begin to interfere with your ability to move freely. 

Take, for example, your discs, which separate the 33 vertebrae in your spine. These discs provide critical cushioning and shock absorption, allowing your spine full range of motion. As you get older, though, the tough collagen fibers that make up the exterior begin to lose moisture, which can set you up for a herniated or bulging disc.

Another prime example of age-related back pain is spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of your spinal canal. Stenosis happens gradually and may take place over decades before you’re even aware of the condition. When your spinal canal narrows to the point where it compromises a nerve root in the area, you’re made painfully aware of the condition.

Another contributor to age-related back pain is osteoarthritis in the facet joints in your lower back. As the cartilage within these joints breaks down, your bones are left to rub together, causing pain and inflammation.

Rounding out the list of usual suspects is osteoporosis or loss of bone density. When this occurs in your vertebrae, it can lead to compression fractures in your spine that can cause considerable pain, as well as problems with posture.

No back pain is normal

While the question posed in this title is whether back pain is normal as you age, we posit that no pain should be considered normal. Yes, your risks for developing nagging back pain do increase with age, but our goal is to help you find relief in the face of these forces. 

To do this, we offer a number of treatments, including:

Dr. Smith has extensive experience performing pain-relieving back surgery, especially in those who are experiencing failed back surgery syndrome.

If you’d like to remove your back from your list of age-related concerns, please give us a call at (817) 598-8120 or use our online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.

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