4 Ways to Help Relieve Back Pain for Older Adults

older man hunched over his couch, holding his back in pain

Back pain doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age. But as we get older, it can feel all too common. Lower back pain is one of the most common health problems among older adults. After 60, we're more likely to experience this back pain as a result of osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage and other tissues within your joints break down or change in structure. As we age, the risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. It roughly affects about 70% of people over the age of 65 and though it is common, it's not inevitable.

Living a healthy lifestyle is the best defense against developing osteoarthritis, including healthy dieting, exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress.

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that results in pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This pressure typically causes pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in the neck and lower back.

This condition is often caused by age-related wear and tear.

How can I relieve my back pain?

The discomfort that comes with having back pain can be draining and can turn a good day into a bad day within minutes. The next time you're suffering from a backache, try some of the following at-home remedies.

1. Sleep in a different position.

The wrong sleep position can make your back pain worse. When you're sleeping, you should have your spine, head, and neck in a straight line and avoid laying on your stomach.

If you like to sleep on your side, try alternating sides periodically throughout the night or lie on the hip that isn't painful and place a pillow between your legs. Using a pillow between your legs can help keep your pelvis neutral and prevent your spine from rotating throughout the night.

Having a mattress that caters to your needs can make a big difference in your back pain as well.

2. Exercise.

People with back pain are often more hesitant to exercise because they're afraid of making their pain worse. But simple stretches or low-impact exercises can really help to loosen up the muscles in your back and allow you to move easier without putting a lot of pressure on your joints.

3. Wear different shoes.

Unstable shoes that are ill-fitting can be a reason why you have lower back pain or can make your back pain worse. Wearing high heels or even flat shoes can strain your feet and back because they disrupt the natural form of the body.

Look for shoes that are comfortable and fit you correctly. It doesn’t hurt to grab some orthotics either so you have extra support.

4. Work on your posture.

Bad posture can constrict the nerves and blood vessels in your back, making your back pain worse. When walking, sitting, or standing, lift your head and pull your shoulders back.

Avoid lifting heavy things and do not sit for long periods of time. When you walk or stand, put most of your weight on the balls of your feet.

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