Is Back Pain Normal as You Age?

Millions of Americans live with back pain, and WebMD reports that lower back pain is the most common cause of chronic pain in older adults. Back pain does tend to get worse as people age, especially because many adults are sedentary, which takes its toll.

However, even if back pain is common, that doesn’t mean it’s something you just have to live with. There are important things you can do to try to minimize your pain. Dr. Benjamin R. Cohen can help you manage your back pain and feel better again.

The most common causes of back pain

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of back pain. When you’re young, fluid cushions the discs in your spine. As you get older, fluid is lost, which causes the discs to rub against one another, leading to pain.

Another common cause of back pain is curvature of the spine, also known as scoliosis. This problem typically exists from birth but only causes problems as you get you older.

Spinal stenosis can also occur as you age. This condition causes degeneration of the spine, narrowing your spinal column and pinching your nerves. 

Other contributing factors that can worsen back pain as you age are excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle. Years of these concerns place more stress on your spine, which leads to increased pain.

First-line treatments for back pain

Dr. Cohen always prefers to start with the least invasive treatment possible. Simple recommendations include losing weight if needed and working on correcting your posture.

Other minimally invasive treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy or an exercise program to strengthen your back and reduce pain.

Surgical interventions for back pain

Sometimes, nonsurgical interventions aren’t effective enough to eliminate your back pain. Depending on the cause of your pain, Dr. Cohen offers surgical options to correct the underlying problem. Some surgical solutions for back pain include:

Spinal fusion

This surgery fuses together the vertebrae in a section of your spine. This prevents the vertebrae from rubbing against each other and stabilizes your back. 

Decompressive laminectomy

Decompressive laminectomy removes bone in your spine. This creates more space in your spinal column and removes pressure on the nerves.


A discectomy removes the damaged parts of one or more of the discs in your spinal column. This procedure relieves the pressure that damaged discs can place on your spine.


This surgery enlarges the passageway where your spinal cord passes through the spinal column. It is most often done in cases of spinal stenosis. 

What to expect after spinal surgery

You should expect to see some relief from your pain pretty quickly after back surgery. Patients who’ve had spinal surgery report 70% to 90% improvement of their pain, depending on the conditions they had before surgery.

However, it can take anywhere from 3-12 months to regain full functioning after spinal fusion surgery. It takes time for your body to heal. You may benefit from physical therapy after spinal surgery to further strengthen the muscles in your back. 

Dr. Cohen can help your back feel better. Whether you can improve with simple, noninvasive treatments or need to have surgery, pain relief is a realistic goal. Contact our Garden City, New York, office today at 516-231-2849.

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