Older Adults and the Struggle with Lower Back Pain

low back pain

Low back pain does not discriminate. It happens to people of all ages and genders. However, low back pain becomes more common in older adults and the causes of low back pain in older adults tend to change as well. In younger years, discomfort in the back is often due to a mild strain or overexertion. As people age, low back pain causes become more serious as the spine begins to break down after years of bearing one’s weight. Injuries and other health conditions can have an impact on spinal health as well.

What is to Blame for Lower Back Pain?

For aging individuals, low back pain causes are usually due to a deterioration of the spine. The bones become weak with time, especially for those with a calcium deficiency. In some cases, the canal that surrounds the spine begins to actually narrow. Calcium deposits can build up as well. Whether the cartilage that acts as a cushion for the vertebrae deteriorates or the spine itself has less space around it, each condition can be painful. The severity of the condition will be related to the amount of pain. People who were involved in athletics in their younger years or intense labor are more likely to suffer a breakdown of the vertebrae when they are older. In the end, it all comes down to wear and tear on the body. Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, and spinal stenosis are major issues for the aging population. In some cases, the vertebrae may actually slip or slide out of place. The final result is a pain.

What are Symptoms that are Associated with Low Back Pain?

There are a variety of low back pain symptoms that can indicate different conditions. If symptoms of low back pain include frustrating pain first thing in the morning, only to have it come back at night, there’s a good chance that osteoarthritis is to blame. Victims of arthritis usually find some relief once they get their bodies moving. However, overexertion can result in more low back pain symptoms. Victims of arthritis may be awoken in the night by their pain. Touching the lower back can be painful. They are likely to lose flexibility as well. Victims of low back pain accompanied by leg pain or numbness in the legs could be dealing with a narrowing of the canal around the spine or their vertebrae could be shifting out of place.

Spinal Compression Fractures: Another Culprit for Low Back

For aging adults who suffer back pain that strikes suddenly and is severe, spinal compression fractures could be to blame. This type of fracture can also result in a deformity of the back or a loss of height. The pain is usually relieved by lying down. It worsens with any type of activity, especially walking. Even standing up can be a problem. A spinal compression fracture is due to the collapse of one or more vertebrae. Doctors will consider this condition for people over 50, especially women who might have osteoporosis. Treatment with corticosteroids over an extended period of time can weaken the bones and could result in a collapse of the vertebrae. When the spine is weakened due to a lack of calcium and loss of bone density, something as simple as a cough could cause a spinal compression fracture and debilitate low back pain.

What are Causes of Low Back Pain that Are Less Common?

Low back pain can also be caused by less common conditions, such as tumors on the spine, infections, and fibromyalgia, which causes pervasive pain throughout the body. Ankylosing spondylitis, Piriformis syndrome, and Coccydynia also cause low back pain. With so many possible conditions that can affect the back, it is important for victims of back pain to get a professional opinion in order to find a solution for symptoms of low back pain.

How to Get Rid of Low Back Pain

For anyone who has suffered from back pain, whether it is for a short duration or chronic, finding effective low back pain treatment is essential for a better quality of life. This especially holds true for older adults who may become less mobile and more prone to depression if they can not resolve their pain. The first step is a proper diagnosis. Older adults who are suffering from pain in their lower back should see a physician in order to diagnose their pain and find the right treatment options. A physician can offer many options for low back pain treatment. Depending on the cause of the pain, rest may be the first step, as well as the application of heat, and medications. Exercises can be prescribed to provide relief. Chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy are often effective, as well as steroid injections. Surgery is usually the last result when all else fails for the treatment of low back pain for older adults suffering from back pain.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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