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Dear Dr. Caraotta,
My mother is 75 years old and has low back pain. I took her to her medical doctor, he examined her and said that she probably has arthritis. He gave her some medication, but this is not helping. Do you think that chiropractic could help her and what are some of the more common problems in this age group that could cause back pain?
Dr. Caraotta's Response
There are many causes of low back pain. Sometimes the pain a person is perceiving in their back can be due to a back problem or another area in which the pain is radiating. For example, I had a gentleman in his senior years present to our office with low back and hip pain. After examining him and taking x-rays, it was determined that he had a hip problem, that was causing pain to radiate into his back.
Some of the more common causes of low back pain in patients in this age category include spinal stenosis, subluxation degeneration, arthritis and facet syndromes.
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which a patient will have bone spurs in and around the spinal canal, which can be accompanied by disc atrophy exerting pressure on the nervous system, causing pain. Many of these patients respond well to lumbar traction and the proper rehabilitation.
Subluxation degeneration is a condition where discs between the vertebra "wear out", compress or collapse, causing the vertebra to move out of it's correct position, and "pinch" a nerve. This is amongst the most common condition we treat.
There are over 100 types of arthritic conditions, which could cause musculoskeletal pain syndromes. The most common cause arthritis in the low back is osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Many times the pain associated with this type of arthritis is very responsive to Chiropractic.
A Facet Syndrome is a condition in which a patient has irritation in the posterior part of the spine, called facets. This often times mimics a disc herniation. The most effective treatment we offer in these cases usually include conservative traction, light manipulation, and physical therapy such as ultrasound, diathermy, and electrical muscle stimulation.