Back pain that happens more often as you age is not normal; here’s a better strategy.

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wall-st-journalBack pain that happens more often as you age is not normal; here's a better strategy. Is back pain normal?  The internet sources often cite the everyone will have back pain which is self limiting, yet, as you age, you notice that the frequency of these episodes has increased, perhaps this conventional internet wisdom should be questioned. According to most of the information that is coming out, back pain treated with conventional wisdom is at epidemic proportions.  At home, the Opioid problem is at epidemic proportions because of a failure to manage problems wisely. Why is it that some of us hardly ever have back problems, yet other are constantly having problems.  Is it work or lifestyle related?  Is there something that is different in your situation that those who subscribe to the tenants of conventional wisdom just don't understand? The truth is that we are all unique, and come from different gene pools.  If your parents have back problems, you are more likely to have them too.  You not only look like them but walk like them too.  The truth is that by the age of 6, you are walking like you will as an adult.  You will likely get a lot taller, a woman's hips are likely to get wider which will aggravated any poor body mechanics that show up prior to puberty during puberty and the weight gain as we grow is likely to aggravate problems in the lower back and affect the way you walk. We all do things for different reasons.  Some of us find that with constant exercise, we have more energy and are less stiff so we go to the gym where our workout's help us feel better and less tight.  Some of us do Yoga, while others gravitate to Pilates or some other exercise that helps us feel looser and more flexible, yet few of us really understand why we are tight and stiff.  Is it age or is there something we just do not understand fully. Many of us who are tight all the time simply have no idea that anything is wrong since we have always been that way, or perhaps there was an accident or injury when we were younger that we believe was the start of our lower back problems.  Do we really know this or are we just trying to fill in the blanks to understand and describe why we hurt.  Truthfully, there is no normal, just what we consider normal.  If we are spinal torsiontight all the time, we consider this normal for us or if our back is achy or we get just our normal headaches multiple times per week, this is normal to us. While this may sound like double talk, there is likely a reason for our symptoms that was never explained to you.  Most health care providers do not understand body mechanics, or how to properly examine the musculoskeletal system. Many doctors are highly skeptical of things that are outside their training, yet, their skepticism often leads to a lack of use of healthcare providers who understand the mechanism of conditions such as back pain better than they do.   On the other hand, when most medical doctors visit chiropractors, they tend to become good referral sources as they better understand how back pain develops and how it should be treated, which is using a functional mechanical solution, and avoiding drugs or trying to manage pain in the absence of understanding why the pain is present. Most healthcare these days runs on diagnostic tracts, and lower back pain is no exception.  The problem is, that back pain can be caused by upper back problems, lower back malfunction, foot problems, body asymmetry issues and be exacerbated by exercise.   The unspoken truth is that most back pain treatments may relieve pain but are mostly useless because the back is the symptom, rather than the problem. Worse, the patient is not a diagnostic tract, and trying to make your problem fit their diagnostic tract often fails, leading to more aggressive treatment, surgeries and rehab that cannot possibly work. As you age, if a lower back problem has not been addressed properly, you are likely to have more episodes of pain as the mechanism of why you hurt causes changes to the joints in the back and hips. After the age of 40, your body will mature, the discs in your back dry out and the physiologic changes related to aging and how we have used our bodies over the years will begin to become more noticeable.  We get away with a lot when we are younger but as we age, it will catch up with us. If you do the right things for yourself, such as addressing mechanical issues in the feet by wearing the right shoes or inserts to level your hips, seeing a chiropractor regularly to help restore movement in the spine, pelvis and tightened fascia, exercise and eat good foods, your later years are likely to be less painful and your mobility will be better. Unfortunately, the insurance industry has made healthcare more expensive for everyone by raising copayments and deductibles, forcing some of us to treat our health economically based on pain rather than problem solving.   In the end, they continually thrive on fragmented care which is expensive, and ineffective, causing us to pay more yearly. Allowing insurance to dictate what you do to stay healthy huge mistake since it will catch up with you, and as many of us who find out lower backs being less tolerant of lifting our children, or doing simple daily tasks, or the maneuver we did that caused our knees to hurt, resulting in a meniscus tear, a problem that is usually caused by a poorly functioning core and tight hip capsules and leg muscles.  Joint damage is permanent, and is in many cases avoidable with proper spinal hygiene. We have choices to make.
  1. Ignore stiffness and pain and feel worse hoping it will go away or make smart preventative choices.
  2. Visit the chiropractor regularly and grow older gracefully.
The truth is that is truly up to us to exercise, maintain and eat well.   We can also ignore the problem and hope it will go away.   The problem is that mechanical problems do not go away as we age, however the symptoms may not be as noticeable.  Is it ok to not be able to turn your neck or get something off the floor without experiencing pain?  Once the damage is done, its done. See your chiropractor regularly.  It is a great insurance policy.