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Home Blog Let’s Keep This Real and Discuss With Me. Dr. Tim Harcourt, the Implications in Your Life Of Low Back Pain in the Older Adult

Let’s Keep This Real and Discuss With Me. Dr. Tim Harcourt, the Implications in Your Life Of Low Back Pain in the Older Adult

Sep 20, 2021 -- Posted by : Dr.Harcourt

Last month, we addressed low back pain (LBP) in the younger patient (age 30-60), so it only seems appropriate to continue the discussion for those over the age of 60. As previously mentioned, back pain does NOT discriminate when it comes to age. In fact, chiropractors see many children and teenagers with LBP as well as 90+ year-olds! Let’s take a look at the “usual” differences…

In the younger adult, facet syndrome and disk derangement are common conditions, and though this can still occur in the older adult, it becomes less common after age 60. The primary reason is that our disks become dehydrated or “dry up” as we age, making them less likely to herniate compared to a young, well-hydrated disk. During this “dehydration” process, the disks gradually narrow and bulge outwards. Therefore, in the 60+-year-old adult, disk-related pain is typically NOT from the soft liquid center herniating through the tough outer “annular” layer as it does in the younger patient. Rather, it’s from a combination of conditions. These conditions combine together and result in a narrowing of the openings through which the nerve root exits the spine (called the neuroforamen).

The multiple conditions that contribute to this process include (but are not limited to): narrowing and bulging of the disk, osteoarthritis, or spurring extending off the vertebral endplates where the disk attaches, facet joint arthritis resulting in “hypertrophy” or enlargement, calcification of ligaments, and more. WHEN the neuroforamen narrows to the point of pinching the nerve root, symptoms occur. This condition is called “spinal stenosis” (SS), which literally means, “narrowed spinal canals” with entrapment of the spinal cord and/or nerves. Classic symptoms associated with SS include low back pain and stiffness. Most importantly, SS causes a gradual reduction in the amount of time that people with this condition can tolerate walking. Restricted mobility is initially subtle, but after months and years, walking may become more and more limited. That is, every time a certain time frame is reached (like 5 or 10 minutes of walking), the symptoms become significant to the point they force the SS patient to stop and sit or bend over often for one to two minutes, after which time they are able to resume walking for a similar amount of time.

Another common feature is that bending forwards HELPS (because it opens up the neuroforamen), and many SS patients walk bent over as their “norm.” When walking in a grocery store, they may lean forwards on the grocery cart because it allows for a longer, less painful walk. Other symptoms common with osteoarthritis (which always precedes SS) include morning stiffness, stiffness and pain when rising from sitting, decreased range of spinal motion or flexibility, localized painful joints, and others. As mentioned previously, degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis is a slow, smoldering process that can often be traced back over the past 5, 10, and even 20 years.

So, if you are experiencing back pain, lower back pain, or pain in the coccyx and type in pain management near me, you may find Coast Chiropractic Centers with Dr. Timothy Harcourt, me, comes up. 

You may wonder, “Do I need an MRI scan of my back.”

Also, if you feel leg pain it may indicate things are getting worse and may indicate a bulge on the disc or worse yet a herniated disc in your back.  Some people will try stretching the lower back first to see if they get relief from their back pain.  Pain very low in the lower back may be originating from the coccyx or tailbone.  A pulled muscle in the back generally will get better with rest.  Persistent or worsening pain intensity and/or frequency necessitates a visit to see a professional. 

Call me, Dr. Tim Harcourt, at (239) 278-3344 and mention this article for an awesome discounted first visit to include history, exam, and adjustment or Class IV high-intensity laser treatment.


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