Low Back Pain In Older Adults; Risk Factors And Management Options

Thanks to the technological and pharmaceutical advances that the world has been experiencing over the past decade, the average human life expectancy has increased by a significant margin. Healthcare has become more comprehensive and more accessible for many people, because of which the senior population has more of a life these days, than before.

According to the United Nations, the proportion of seniors in the world above the age of 60 is likely to increase up to three times by the year 2050. And this trend is already becoming quite prominent. But what also seems to be increasing is the occurrence of lower back pain among seniors as well.

In fact, lower back pain has been found to be one of the most common health issues among senior citizens that affects their functional abilities and hinders their life to a great extent. Older adults, above 80 years of age apparently have higher odds of experiencing serious lower back pain than those aged 60 years. And the prevalence of the health condition among seniors above 70 years is as high as 58%.

Clearly, the senior population needs extra help concerning low back pain. Along with prompt medical care, there are also a few other aids and accessories that caregivers can provide for their senior loved ones, such as Obusforme back support products.

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The causes of LBP among older adults may vary with the general lifestyle of the individual and historical medical records. Similarly, the causes may be very different from those seen among younger adults as well. From osteoporotic spine fractures to tumours or cancers to visceral diseases to vertebral osteomyelitis, lower back pain may arise secondary to or as a result of varied health conditions.

There are also a number of additional risk factors associated with lower back pain including the age, the existing health conditions of the patient as well as many more psychosocial factors. These risk factors can in turn affect the overall quality of life of the patient, contributing towards an increased risk of falls or other compromising situations. Naturally, there may also be management issues concerning these health conditions that further pave the way for lower back pain and related health issues.

Managing lower back pain inevitably requires a proper analysis of the medical history of the patient, in order to study the causes of the same. Additionally, a detailed and comprehensive physical examination is also required to differentiate between mechanical and non-mechanical LBP. This includes analysing conditions like fever, numbness, radiating pain, weight loss, prominent abdominal pain and incontinence; both urinary and bowel. These factors should be considered to make sure it doesn’t just mean physical pathology, as they tread along the same lines.

A lot of these indicators can be self-measured by the patients themselves. In addition to these, another important examination needs to be done of the lumbar region. This is done in order to determine spinal issues, which can be one of the major causes of lower back pain.

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Neurological studies can also help analyse the overall strength of the nervous system. Simple health matters like reflex, touch sensation, muscle strength etc. can help analyse the neurological system.

Next, in order to assess fall-associated risks contributing to lower back pain a general performance analysis can also be done. For example, the walking speed, the ability of the senior patient to stand with balance, the ability of the patient to go from sitting to standing position and vice versa with ease can all be good indicators of the functional situation of the patient. These measurements can also become handy for patients who are prone to fall risks.

Early diagnosis naturally can help in providing effective care for lower back pain. Hence it is necessary to keep an eye on the symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower back are that is most pronounced during early mornings and evenings.
  • Back pains that often interrupts sleep
  • Intermittent pain in the lower back area that seems to increase with increased activity.
  • Prominent stiffness at the back leading to difficulties at the waist while bending to pick things up etc.
  • Pain upon touching or pressing the affected area on the spine

On experiencing any of these symptoms on a consistent basis, help should ideally be sought so as to make appropriate care available at the right time.

From a general perspective, two of the main causes of lower back pain among older adults have been found to be osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. For both these conditions though, the symptoms may be intermittent in the beginning and may become more prominent as the condition progresses.

Suffice it to say, it is always necessary to watch out for prominent symptoms at all times. The right time of treatment can make a big difference when it comes to treating lower back pain or any health condition for that matter.

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