Relief exists for senior back pain sufferers

Relief exists for senior back pain sufferers

Back pain is a very common condition that affects a majority of individuals sometime throughout their lives, particularly senior citizens. This is, in part, due to being an upright human and, in part, due to the natural process of aging.

The good news is that there are many traditional and newer techniques to treat this common ailment. Through these, and future posts, I hope to help individuals understand the common causes for back pain, prevention strategies and treatment options.

By far, the most common cause of back pain is muscle spasm. In addition, arthritis of the joints in the back, degenerative disc disease and stenosis are contributing factors. Many of these conditions that cause pain can improve significantly with lifestyle modifications.

Some examples of these modifications are:

  1. Weight loss. As the force of the added weight is reduced on the spine, the joints and discs have less stress, thus reducing the incidence of injury and associated pain.
  2. Low impact exercise and stretching. With your doctor’s advice, low impact exercise and stretching can assist with low back pain. Good examples of this include walking on a treadmill with a good set of walking or running shoes. In addition, using an elliptical, or recumbent bicycle, swimming, stretching and yoga are all good options to stay active and keep the muscles strong and joints flexible. When strength training, I also recommend using low weight and high repetition to reduce incidence of injury.
  3. Smoking cessation. This is a very good step in the right direction toward reducing back pain and improving your health in general.  Some evidence exists that chemicals found in the body from smoking reduce blood flow and impair the healing of degenerating discs and delaying the healing process.

At the Marshall Senior Pain & Wellness Center, many interventional techniques and approaches are used to help alleviate pain and restore function. Some examples are:

  1. Injection therapy using advanced x-ray guided techniques, such as epidural steroid injections to obtain relief from sciatica or bulging discs, or radiofrequency ablation procedures for pain relief from arthritis of the spine and knee.
  2. Minimally invasive surgery with a technique called spinal cord stimulation to treat chronic pain unresponsive to other treatments.
  3. Physical therapy referrals to improve strength and mobility, and encourage an active lifestyle.
  4. Advanced non-narcotic medicines to treat arthritis pain and neuropathy.

These are just a few of the tools we use for the treatment of chronic pain, without having to rely on addictive medications.

In any event, it is important to remember that options do exist for the treatment of your chronic low back and joint pain. Ultimately, the goal is to lead a substantially less painful and more functional lifestyle, but it takes some involvement from you, too. This is our team approach!

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the Marshall Senior Pain & Wellness Center at 304-691-6779.

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Joseph M. Delapa II, MD

Dr. DeLapa is a double board-certified interventional pain management physician and anesthesiologist and an assistant professor in the department of family and community health at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. He also serves as director of the Marshall Senior Pain & Wellness Center.

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