Six Solutions to help manage Back Discomfort in Older Adults

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Old couple
Old couple

By Alexandra Warner

It’s natural to develop back pain as you age. That’s because the discs between the vertebrae in your spine, which absorb shocks and prevent the vertebrae from rubbing against each other, typically wear down over time.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce age-related back pain. While many at-home remedies can be effective, persistent back pain may require you to gather physical therapy information and meet with an expert to help alleviate pain. The following are some of the more effective methods to keep in mind.

Apply An Ice Pack

Simply placing an ice pack or cold compress can significantly alleviate your discomfort. When you experience pain in an area of your body, it’s often the result of inflammation. Applying something cold to that area reduces inflammation by reducing excessive blood flow to that part of your body.

Or Apply Heat

If cold therapy doesn’t relieve your pain, it’s unlikely that inflammation is the culprit. Your discomfort may instead be linked to muscle tension.

Applying heat to the affected area can relieve the tension and ease your pain. Just make sure you’re using a product that safely generates the high temperature, like a hot water bottle or heating pad. Don’t continue applying any heat to your body if it causes additional pain.

See a Physical Therapist

Many exercises can help treat back pain. However, the right exercises for one person may not be ideal for another. A physical therapist can design a program that fits your needs and abilities.

Take it Easy

Your body typically recovers more slowly from injuries as you get older. Thus, if you are experiencing pain, it’s a good idea to rest for a while instead of straining yourself. Monitor your comfort to determine if this helps the pain subside. If it doesn’t, you may need to gently stretch your back to get the best effects.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Medicine

Prescription pain medicine typically isn’t necessary for age-related back discomfort. That said, over-the-counter options, like ibuprofen, can absolutely be helpful.

Instead of taking them on an as-needed basis, talk to your doctor about “pulsed dosing,” which involves taking pain medicine at regular intervals over the course of several days. This can be more effective than simply taking a pill when you first notice pain.

Consider Surgery

It’s always important to coordinate with your physician when you’re struggling with chronic pain. If no other treatment methods are effective, they may recommend a procedure like vertebroplasty. This involves surgically injecting a special cement into fractured vertebrae to repair them. However, while you should always heed your doctor’s advice if they recommend surgery, it’s unlikely you’ll need this treatment.

Again, back pain is simply a natural side effect of aging in many people. Knowing how to address it before it develops will help you maintain optimal comfort levels throughout life. By following some simple advice and working with a physical therapist, you can keep pain at bay for years.

– Nov. 28, 2018 @ 12:55 GMT |

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