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13 Ways to Fix Your Age-Related Back Pain

As your spine ages, you may start feeling some aches and pains. Here’s why back pain can develop as you age, and what you can do about it.

The spine is a column of 24 bones stretching from your skull to your tailbone, encasing the spinal cord. Its bones, or vertebrae, are linked by tiny joints called facets. In between, discs filled with a jelly-like substance serve as a cushion. Rope-like ligaments stabilize the spine.

The three most common reasons for developing back pain after age 50 are:

  • Degenerative changes in discs and joints — Loss of moisture and resilience can make discs less effective as shock absorbers.
  • Spinal stenosis — The canal through which your spinal cord passes can narrow because of disc degeneration, thickened ligaments or arthritic facet joints (usually in the lower back).
  • Spondylolisthesis — One spinal vertebra can slip forward onto the vertebra below.

6 things you can do to ease back pain

Any of these conditions can cause inflammation or pressure on nerves or pain. When this happens, Cleveland Clinic back pain specialists recommend:

  1. Be more physically active. “Motion is lotion” for the spine, notes spine specialist E. Kano Mayer, MD. The more active you are, the better you’ll feel. Stay active, and you’ll bounce back sooner from episodes of back pain.
  2. Do physical therapy. Physicians can prescribe a back-healthy exercise program to help you gain strength, and improve balance and flexibility. Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles — your core — will make your spine more resilient.
  3. Take medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) — ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin — or acetaminophen can halt inflammatory pain. “Pulsed dosing — consistently taking the medicine two to three times per day for five to 10 days, even after pain subsides — is more reasonable than ‘as-needed’ dosing,” says Dr. Mayer. (Opioid pain relievers are not recommended for chronic back pain.)
  4. Apply cold. Reach for an ice pack first when back pain strikes. Applying ice (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) helps quiet painful inflammation or muscle spasms. (A frozen bag of peas will also do the trick.)
  5. Apply heat. After two or three days, consider using a heating pad, taking warm baths or lying briefly under a heat lamp. This can relax your back muscles and stimulate blood flow, explains Dr. Mayer. Don’t overuse heat (by falling asleep on a heating pad, for instance) to avoid getting burned. Stretch warmed muscles to prevent muscle spasm after the heat source is removed.
  6. Rest up. Aging tends to slow our recovery from injuries. But if your back “goes out,” gentle stretching is superior to bed rest. “Any bed rest beyond 48 hours can increase the duration and intensity of back pain, and slow the pace of your recovery,” he notes.

2 complementary therapies

If age-related back pain does not improve with conventional treatment, complementary medicine techniques may be added to the mix, including:

  1. AcupunctureAcupuncturists insert fine needles into the skin at specific body points and manipulate them. This can relieve chronic pain by stimulating the body’s healing process.
  2. Osteopathic manipulation. Osteopathic doctors (DOs) or chiropractors use their hands to mobilize, adjust, massage and stimulate the spine and its surrounding tissues.

More advanced options from back pain specialists

If pain becomes chronic and persistent, don’t wait too long to see a back pain specialist. “Back pain does not have to destroy your quality of life,” notes pain management specialist Ellen Rosenquist, MD.

“Combining a wide array of procedures — including the conservative therapies above — in a comprehensive pain management plan can reduce pain and improve functionality.”

Drs. Rosenquist and Mayer agree that more invasive treatments can make rehabilitation easier:

  1. Nerve blocks and injections. Steroids — with or without anesthetics — can be injected to reduce back pain and inflammation at the source, whether it is a spinal nerve root or a facet joint, says Dr. Rosenquist.
  2. Radiofrequency ablation. A carefully guided needle capable of transferring radiowaves can be inserted to block painful nerve signals using high-frequency current. This may relieve chronic back pain for nine months or longer in carefully selected people.
  3. Spinal cord stimulators. Stimulating a portion of the spinal cord can change the perception of pain in some people. A small electrode array — similar to multiple pacemakers — can be implanted to send mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord. These mask or divert pain signals so that they don’t reach the brain.
  4. Minimally invasive lumbar decompression. This outpatient procedure specifically treats lumbar spinal stenosis caused by ligamentous tissue overgrowth. It is performed through a tiny incision requiring no general anesthesia and no stitches.
  5. Minimally invasive vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty: This procedure can be used in specialized cases when an acute spine fracture inhibits function. “We insert cement into a broken vertebral body to relieve pain and rapidly return the patient to full function,” says Dr. Mayer.

When such measures fail, a limited number of people may benefit from surgery for chronic age-related back pain.

SOURCE: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017/04/back-pain-your-spine-and-father-time/


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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Patients:

Our patients, employees and family are our top priority at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

We ask you to not visit any of our locations if you have symptoms such as fever, sneezing, coughing and possible shortness of breath.

Please cancel your appointment and re-schedule once you are feeling better and are no longer suffering with symptoms.

Only non-symptomatic patients will be seen. No exceptions.

Accompanying family members – including children – are asked to remain in the waiting area and will not be allowed to enter the exam rooms.

During this time of high concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are taking extra precautions to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and cleanliness. Please be advised that we are carefully following recommendations from both the CDC and WHO and are here to help guide you through this time if needed.

Some steps we are taking to keeping safe:

  1. We know how important cleanliness is and always maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. To further offer you peace of mind, we have increased the frequency of the cleaning of our office.
  2. Rest assured that hand washing is strictly followed. Hand sanitizer is available to all staff and patients.
  3. Additionally, if you have recently traveled to a country with high rates of the coronavirus or have been on a cruise, please reschedule your visit for at least 14 days from your return date. We will gladly accommodate your needs to reschedule. At that time, a telehealth interface can be arranged if necessary.

Find up-to-date and accurate information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and feel free to reach out with questions.

- Your team at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

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