Aging has its perks. Wisdom, perspective, self-assurance, and so much more. But let’s face it, there are a few less than pleasant side effects as well… like sore joints, creaking limbs, and oh, that aching back!

Many people write lower back aches and pains off as “par for the course” when it comes to aging. Still, the truth is the spinal anatomy is very complex, consisting of solid muscles, flexible ligaments and tendons, vertebrae, discs, highly sensitive nerves, and nerve roots. Considering that, it’s no wonder that back pain can be such a … well, PAIN!

Whether you suffer from back pain periodically or regularly, it can put a real damper on enjoying your day-to-day activities. It’s one of the leading causes of job-related absenteeism and disability.

The good news is that there are solutions to treat back pain, and some might surprise you….

  1. Let’s start with the most obvious: practicing good body mechanics. The way we hold our bodies when we walk, stand, sit, and even sleep affects our lower back. So learn and practice good body mechanics and posture habits.
  2. The next obvious one is  massage. We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it – massage can be viewed as a treat, but it’s also a treatment. While massage can be a once-in-awhile scheduled appointment, routine appointments offer big benefits. Massage is a way to maintain balance, relaxation and enhance rejuvenation. With all the wear and tear we put our backs through, it deserves some TLC! All you have to do is schedule one and show up. Not bad, right?
  3. Spinal health may not be the main incentive for a healthy diet and weight control, but it is an added perk. We know that a balanced diet has a good effect on our health and bodies, and how it affects our back is no exception. Carrying around extra weight burden’s your back, so avoid eating processed foods, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and take your vitamins.
  4. Exercise is a great preventative measure to ensure a healthy, strong back, and it’s never too early (or too late) to start. Talk to a professional about an appropriate exercise routine to build up your back and abdominal muscles. These muscles support the spine, so whether you fancy aerobics, yoga, pilates, or water sports, find one that works for you and talk to a trainer to make sure you’re in proper form.
  5. If you still need a reason to quit smoking, look no further. Besides all the health issues we already know smoking causes, a lesser-known fact is that smoking affects spinal health. Smoking makes it harder for your body to absorb calcium and build new bone. It also cuts down on blood flow to the discs, which makes smokers more susceptible to disc degeneration.
  6. Here’s a surprising one: mindful meditation. It’s true… according to a study done in March 2016 by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, mindful meditation can be helpful for older adults coping with back pain. It’s got a few additional perks as well, so go ahead and give it a try!
  7. Infrared light therapy work effectively in repairing the damaged nerves and tissues under the skin.  Look for high-quality infrared machines or treatments.
  8. Acupuncture.  Results from several studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches.
  9. In some cases, back pain will need medical intervention. There are medications, physical therapies, treatments, and even surgeries that are sometimes needed. If you are experiencing back pain regularly, consult with your Doctor of Osteopathy about which solution is right for you.

Start treating your back the way it needs to be cared for… we promise, your body will “have your back” tenfold!