Back pain can occur at any time in life. It affects people of all walks of life and, if not addressed properly, can become an ongoing problem. Here, we look at some of the most common reasons for back pain during one’s fifties.
A Normal Part of Aging
Before we discuss the specific conditions that are known to cause back pain around mid life, we want to point out a mistake that many people make as they experience uncomfortable symptoms. Far too often, back pain is looked at as a normal side effect of aging. While some degree of degeneration in the spinal discs is to be expected, back pain is not. If you have back pain, you have a problem. If you look at your back pain as normal, you are not likely to take the steps you need to address and correct the problem early.
Causes of Back Pain
- Degenerative Disc Disease. Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of back pain after age 40. The risk for disc degeneration increases with age, so it makes sense that many people in their 50s are diagnosed with it. Degenerative disc disease is a byproduct of the physical stress and pressure the spine endures for decades. It is impossible to eliminate this risk, though we can reduce it by maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle.
- Spinal Stenosis. This condition is characterized by the narrowing of the canal at the center of the spine. This canal is the opening from the top to the bottom of the spine in which the spinal cord sits. Narrowing of the spinal canal can lead to nerve impingement. The good news is that it often responds well to physical therapy and specific, targeted exercise. Weight management is also critical to slowing the progression of spinal stenosis.
- Sciatica. Pain down the back of the leg is caused by compression on the sciatic nerve. This is common in middle-aged adults and can usually be alleviated with physical therapy, weight management, and medication.
- Spondylolisthesis. People often hear the term “slipped disc.” Well, spondylolisthesis is a slipped vertebra. When one of the bones of the spine slips onto the bone beneath it, nerves are compressed. This impingement results in pain. Conservative care is usually successful when this problem is caught early.