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Back Pain in Over 55's

While older adults can experience pain related to any of the conditions that also affect younger adults, individuals over age 55 are more likely to suffer from pain related to degeneration of the joints in the spine. Osteoarthritis and Spinal Stenosis are two of the most common causes of lower back pain and sciatica in older adults. Here are some common symptoms that may experienced: OSTEOARTHRITIS

  • Lower back pain and stiffness, most pronounced in the morning and in the evening

Includes any combination of the below symptoms:

  • Pain that interrupts sleep

  • Pain that is most pronounced first thing in the morning and again toward the end of the day

  • Localised tenderness when the affected area of the spine is pressed

  • Aching, steady or intermittent pain in the lower back that is aggravated by extended activity

  • Stiffness or loss of flexibility in the back (for example, unable to bend comfortably at the waist)

Facet joint osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis of the spine, is a degenerative condition that develops gradually over time. The pain is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage between the facet joints in the spine. At first the symptoms may only be intermittent, but can later develop into steadier pain in the lower back, and may eventually cause sciatica in addition to lower back pain.


  • Leg pain that occurs primarily when walking and standing upright

Includes any combination of the following:

  • Unable to walk far without developing leg pain

  • Lower back pain relief is achieved quickly after sitting down

  • Symptoms fluctuate between severe and mild/none

  • Symptoms develop gradually over time

  • Weakness, numbness, and tingling that radiates from the low back into the buttocks and legs sciatica

Spinal stenosis can place pressure on the nerves at the point where they exit the spine. Standing upright, such as in normal walking, increases pressure on the nerve and results in leg pain.

Osteopathy forms an important part of a non-surgical treatment for these common conditions. An Osteopath can assist to correct poor posture, relax tightened muscles, restore mobility of the spine and build up and maintain strength, endurance and flexibility of the spinal muscles. Some of these exercises will help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles (core muscle groups), since they help support the back. An Osteopath can help your current management and give appropriate advice tailored to your spine presentation. Osteopaths can order imaging studies e.g. x-rays if required and refer you to a Specialist if your presentation requires so. As mentioned, this conditions are COMMON and can be well managed. Our goal is to ensure you understand the condition relevant to you and are best equipped to minimise and manage the symptoms.

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