4 Things You Can do to Fix Back Pain at Any Age
I was just talking with a 35 year old mother of 2 who was just told that she had the spine of an 80 year old by her orthopedist. After dealing with back pain for nearly 10 years and having family members that had gotten back surgery without relief and unable to get back to being active. As a runner and former athlete, she was thinking that was the only option for her as well and that she was looking at a future on painkillers and even more surgeries, missing out on time with her family and her ability to also care for her aging parents(Spoiler alert-she has had a happy ending). Sadly, this is a story that many are told when their physician sees their MRI or Xray. Since I’ve heard this story so many times in our Physiotherapy clinic here in Tallahassee, especially from people in their 40s and early 50s who are only given the options of shots, surgery, or painkillers, I wanted to share 4 keys to fixing back pain at any age. Need to talk to somebody now? Schedule a time to speak with one of our Back Pain Specialists
The first key is understanding that while back pain can happen at any age, 40 seems to be the most common age that most people come into their doctor’s office with back pain or sciatica. Interesting note is that the number of people suffering from back pain goes down as people get older. . This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in teenagers or older people, it just happens more often around the 40th birthday. More often than not, back pain or sciatica is not about age but rather more about the things we do daily. Some of these things are more likely to provoke back pain such as sitting in a desk job, bending over to pick up kids or cleaning, or long drives. These are more likely to provoke our back rather than age. In addition, as many of us approach 40, many of us have stopped exercising, stretching, and doing the general maintenance stuff that our bodies need. Work or taking care of the kids has taken over the time we used to run or do lift weights and now our muscles supporting our back aren’t quite as strong as they used to be. For many of us a gentle stretching routine along with walking are the ideal places to start for easing back stiffness and aching muscles.
The second key is to understand that scans including X-rays and MRIs don’t do a good job at figuring why you are in pain. For example, you may have an MRI from a year ago showing a disc bulge, usually at L5-S1 or L4-L5(those are the discs between the bony levels). But, did you know that if you are 40, those same bulges are found in people who are pain free? In fact, 50% of 40 year olds, 60 % of 50 year olds, and 68% of 60 year olds will have a bulging disc and no pain. The really cool thing is that those discs heal. Did you know that after about 6 months your disc is 75% healed? Studies have shown on serial MRIs(done over weeks and months) that the body actually heals the disc bulge(even though you might continue to have back pain). In addition, the level above or below where you have your bulge or herniation is just as likely to be involved in your pain.Due to the way our bodies are wired and the nature of pain-we can have our pain being impacted from as many as 2 levels away from the bulging disc(which is why injections often miss the mark). Plus, because X-Rays and MRIs are done with you lying down or sitting, they often miss what movement is the source of your pain. That’s why we have the regions first 3D Motion scanner that uses AI to generate a 3D picture of how you move, often finding hidden weakness that can contribute to back pain or sciatica. Learn More and Schedule Your 3D motion Scan(Free for a limited time)
Our third key is that too much rest actually makes the problem much much worse. Often taking a day or 2 off is enough for the back to start to calm down but anything more starts to aggravate the problem. Especially if we are sitting a lot as our rest. The reality is that if we can start getting up and moving about, especially working on walking and gentle stretching(but often not bending forward as that tends to make the problem worse), Next, start working back to what your routine was before. So, if you are a golfer, getting back and putting first before starting your chipping and then working back to driving. If you are a runner, that might be a run/walk gradually working your pace back to your workout pace. Your back will heal along the way and you will move it and lube it back to being a happy spine. Have a concern I haven’t covered? Pick a time to speak with one of our back pain specialists, from the comfort of your own couch and for free.
Our last key for fixing back pain at any age is to get help sooner rather than later. That can be in the form of our free low back e-book 5 Things You can do Today to Ease Low Back Pain and Sciatica
Confused about where to start? We got you covered! That’s why we offer free consultations to help you get to the root of why you are dealing with stiffness, pain, or just not performing the way you need to.
During one of our free consultations, the Total Body Diagnostic, we offer expert advice about the worry and frustration of life-changing aches and pains – for FREE, in under 30 minutes.
If this article describes your story and you are looking for some help with overcoming hip pain, we offer FREE consultations, which give you the opportunity to come in and meet us and see for yourself how we can help you.
Here are just a few of the things you will learn in one of our free consultation:
What is the underlying cause of your pain? (hopefully nothing too serious!)
Roughly, how long will it take to fix the problem?
What to do to help – which doesn’t include painkillers, resting or surgery etc.
What other, natural, drug free methods are there to speed up recovery alongside treatment?
Our consultations are great for anyone that may be “unsure” if physio is right for them, and they give you the opportunity to ask questions and see for yourself if we can help you.
If you’d like one of our limited free consultation sessions, please click here to request your free in person back pain specialist consultation or CALL us on 850-765-2779 to make a no-obligation enquiry.
About the Author
Dr. Brandon Alkire, DPT, CSCS, FMS, Cert. DN, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Strength CoachDr. Brandon is the owner and a Physio at Body Mechanix Physiotherapy and Fitness. Four of his favorite people call him daddy while he's been married to his other favorite person for 20 years. He enjoys teaching martial arts and is a Mestrando in Capoeira while in the mornings, he can be found working out with the guys in F3 around town. He's the author of 4 pain relief guides for sciatica, low back, shoulder, and knees and the lead contributor to the Active Tallahassee Blog.