It can be one of the worst parts of ageing; that our bodies start to ache and cause us issues even when we haven’t had any previous problems. Back pain can be the worst of it, and in serious cases, the most debilitating. Adults over the age of 60 are the most susceptible to a variety of back pain ailments for a number of reasons, but the two most common issues are osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. If you haven’t heard of these terms before, osteoarthritis is caused by a swelling in the facet joints that run along the left and right side of the lower end of the spine. Spinal stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the channel in the body which surrounds the spinal nerves or spinal cord.
There are a number of different pains associated with the lower back and a variety of reasons why they might occur. We’ll touch on a few of them, their signs, what other symptoms you may notice, and their possible causes.
Morning and evening lower back pain and stiffness
One possible cause of this symptom is facet joint osteoarthritis, which we’ve described in the first paragraph, and which is a condition that can develop over a long period of time, beginning with intermittent pain which becomes more pronounced and constant.
Other symptoms you may notice with this condition are interrupted sleep (due to pain), pain that is most noticeable in the morning and evening, tenderness in the affected area of the spine, increasing pain with extended activity, and the inability to comfortably bend at the waist.
Leg pain when walking or standing
Spinal stenosis (outlined in the first paragraph) and degenerative spondylolisthesis both cause pressure on nerves where they exit the spine. When an activity like walking is performed, or even just when the sufferer is standing upright, this naturally increases pressure on the nerves and can result in pain in one or both legs.
Other symptoms you may notice with either of these conditions are that symptoms can fluctuate between mild to severe, a gradual development of symptoms, difficulty with even regular and slow walking without pain, weakness, a numb or tingling feeling that stems from the lower back and trickles all the way into the legs. You may also notice that your pain relief can come from simply sitting down.
Shrinking, sudden back pain, and limited or reduced flexibility
Adults over the age of 50 are at increased risk for spinal compression fracture and this should always be addressed especially in the case of post-menopausal women who have osteoporosis or in either sex with long term use of corticosteroid. Something as seemingly minor as a sneeze can cause a fracture in someone with osteoporosis; the importance of identifying this type of injury cannot be overstated.
Other symptoms you may experience include back deformity or disability, increased pain with prolonged standing or walking, sudden attacks of back pain, and the realization that lying down offers almost immediate relief.