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Is Back Pain Normal As You Age?

Back pain happens to almost everyone at one time or another. If you have back pain, you’re not alone. Over 31 million Americans are experiencing back pain right now. 

Sometimes back pain is the result of injury or a known health condition. Other times lifestyle choices put us in pain, like a lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and carrying extra weight. But the primary cause of back pain in America is aging.

While age-related back pain is common, it doesn’t have to be inevitable or debilitating. At Integrated Medical Solutions of Knoxville in Knoxville, Tennessee, Dr. David Shreve, Dr. Leigh Ricketts, and our compassionate team focus on whole-body health and wellness with an integrative and individualized approach to care. 

The back pain specialists at Integrated Medical Solutions of Knoxville want you to understand what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to age-related back pain. We’ve created this guide to help you identify symptoms and learn what you can do to treat and prevent back pain.

What causes age-related back pain?

Not everyone experiences back pain as they age. But the older you get, the more common it is to feel aches and pains in your back. Experts estimate about 85% of people experience back pain as they age. This is due to your spine aging along with you.

Your spine covers the spinal column and is made of 24 bones, called vertebrae, which are kept stable by ligaments. These bones are joined by facets or small joints. To keep the bones from rubbing, you have cartilage and discs, which are filled with a gel-like substance. 

Here are the top reasons your aging spine may ache: 

1. Disc degeneration or herniation

As you get older, the discs begin to wear down and become smaller. The result? Pain and stiffness as your bones begin to rub against each other when you move. Sometimes this can cause the disc to bulge out of place, or herniate, putting pressure on nerves and causing pain. 

2. Spinal stenosis

Over time, you have less and less space around the spine, which can put pressure on sensitive nerves. This condition is called spinal stenosis, which creates nerve pain that can radiate down your back and into your buttocks and legs. It can even cause muscle weakness, making you feel sore after moving. 

3. Arthritis 

With age, your spinal cartilage, which is made up of collagen and elastin, begins to thin since collagen production naturally slows as you get older. The cartilage can eventually wear down, causing your bones to rub against each other and create pain.

4. Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips forward, backward, or even over the vertebra below it. This slippage usually occurs in the lower spine and can cause pain and nerve injury. 

Are there ways to prevent back pain? 

You can’t stop time, but you can work to prevent age-related back pain. Since the cushioning in the spine decreases with age, avoiding high-impact activities, helps put less pressure on your back. 

That doesn’t mean you should stop moving! Keeping active with aerobic activities and strength training exercises will keep your back strong. Strong core muscles are especially important for a pain-free back.

A well-balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins, like legumes, beans, and tofu, can help you maintain a healthy weight, which keeps excess pressure off your back. 

Good posture goes a long way toward preventing back pain, as does avoiding lifting heavy objects or lifting them incorrectly. If you lift something heavy, use your leg and glute muscles instead of your back.

What if I already have age-related back pain?

If you already have age-related back pain, we can help. We offer chiropractic care to ease any imbalance in the spine, which reduces your discomfort.


Our noninvasive techniques include the Activator Methods (low-force thrust), the Gonstead full-spine approach, manual thrust, and the Thompson Terminal Point Technique which reduces impact during your adjustments.

We also provide customized exercises based on your unique symptoms and medical history. These exercises will boost your core strength, alleviate pain, and reduce the risk of developing more back problems in the future. 

Our doctors can provide regenerative medicine, like stem cell injections, to help with several different back problems. For example, degenerating discs and other natural therapies can alleviate your pain. 

Ready to say goodbye to age-related back pain?

Back pain doesn’t have to get in the way of living your life to the fullest. Our team at Integrated Medical Solutions of Knoxville has the experience and skills needed to bring you relief. 

Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and get ready to say goodbye to your back pain!

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