For seniors whose back starts to hurt on a regular basis should know they’re not alone. In fact, about 6 million older adults in the United States are living with chronic back pain. Gbolahan Okubadejo, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon says this is because as we age we lose fluid in our discs which causes them to collapse making us feel stiff. Of course, lifestyle habits increase the likelihood of this happening. Some of these culprits are quite surprising.
Although seniors probably know that sitting too much isn’t good for their health what they may not realize is that it can also result in back pain. This is because when immobile for a while a cycle of pain and spasms will start with the end result being a painful spine.
PM&R published a small study in which researchers measured the discs of seniors who were sedentary and discovered that sitting for as few as four hours suffer an increased risk of back pain. This is why it’s important to incorporate 5 minutes of stretching and core strengthening activities every two hours.
Smoking limits your blood flow which causes your discs to age prematurely. In fact, Okubadejo says that this is the primary reason why people who have spinal fusion surgery don’t heal.
Research also suggests that smoking affects how your brain responds to back pain making seniors less resilient to it. In fact, this is likely to affect three times more smokers than nonsmokers.
Although your soft mattress may feel comfortable it may cause your back to hurt. This is because it isn’t supporting your spine since you can sink down into it easily. Instead, seniors should opt for a medium-firm mattress – something that’s supported by a Journal of Chiropractic Medicine study. This study had participants log their sleep and comfort for 28 days on mattresses that were at least 5 years old then repeated this on a new, medium-firm mattress. With the new mattress, participants saw consistent improvement in the comfort of their backs.
Wearing high heels can be painful because they change your gait and thus can result in back pain. This is also true of sensible shoes when worn too long. It’s essentially the same thing as what happens when you sleep on the wrong type of mattress. For this reason, you should be on the lookout for shoes that have medium firmness in their soles and can also provide you with some upper arch support. Wearing shoes with soft soles may make you feel as though you’re able to absorb some of the impacts as you walk but if they’re too soft they become unstable.
Another thing that seniors should watch out for is the amount of stress they’re under because it can wreak havoc on their bodies. For instance, it can result in the muscles around your spine becoming squeezed. This is because stress is typically carried in a person’s neck and shoulders from where it travels downwards to your spine since it sets off an inflammatory response. When this happens and you don’t know that you have a torn disc it can open you up to an extreme amount of pain that you wouldn’t have felt otherwise.
Getting up and moving is important to fend off back pain, especially when you feel stressed. However, your movement may also be restricted if you don’t hear as well as you did in the past. For help with any hearing issues you may be experiencing, you should contact Countryside Hearing Aid Services in Clearwater and Pinellas County.
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