Learn About 7 Potential Causes of Your Back Pain

Back pain is an issue facing many seniors, as well as younger adults. Many types of back pain are acute, meaning the pain will last for a short time. As a senior, you may suffer from acute back pain after falling or slipping and pulling a muscle or damaging your back in another way. However, seniors are also at high risk for chronic back pain. Chronic back pain can happen if you suffer from an ongoing back disease or deformity of your spine. These illnesses often happen because of joint inflammation, bone density loss and other conditions associated with aging. If you have chronic back pain, it can happen suddenly or develop over some time. In either case, it can be debilitating and not allow you to enjoy activities with friends and family members fully. Below is a list of seven potential causes of your back pain.

General Physical Condition

Your general physical condition can play a part in your back pain as you age. If you are overweight or out of shape, activities other people find easy can place stress on your back, resulting in the back pain you are experiencing. When the muscles and ligaments are strained, it can cause pain and potentially uncomfortable spasms in your back.

Impacts and Injuries

Even if you are in good physical condition, you may experience back pain after an impact or injury. If you are a senior who suffers from balance problems, you are at a particularly high risk for back injuries related to falling. Additional types of impacts or injuries that can cause back pain include car accidents and lifting heavy objects. Some of these injuries heal in time, while others may leave you in chronic pain.


Scoliosis is also known as a curved spine. While you can have scoliosis as a child, it is far more likely to develop it as you age. If you suffer from scoliosis, you may have first noticed it as a young to middle-aged adult. At the time, the discomfort linked to it may have been distracting. However, the additional stress placed on your back over the years may have caused the pain to worsen. Therefore, as a senior, you may find scoliosis completely debilitating.

Degenerative adult scoliosis is sometimes caused as a result of physical changes to the back after surgery. However, you can also experience it due to the weakening of the structures in your back. For example, your back can be weakened due to damaged vertebrae or softening bone structures. Such age-related changes can cause your spine to lose its straight shape and self-supporting capabilities.


Osteoporosis is a condition that causes changes in your bone density. If you suffer from it, your bones can develop holes or weak points. They can also become brittle. According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 5.3 million people in the United States who are 50 years of age or older have osteoporosis. If you are one of them, you are at higher risk for bone fractures as you age, especially if you are female. Osteoporosis can also impact the health of your spine by causing the vertebrae to collapse. When the vertebrae are compressed, you may feel some pain. You may also notice that your spine begins to curve. In fact, it is possible for your osteoporosis to be a partial cause of adult degenerative scoliosis. It may also contribute to the worsening of adult degenerative scoliosis.


Arthritis is a medical condition often associated with joint pain. However, it is not a single ailment but a category of ailments. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is a condition that causes your body to lose joint cartilage over time. Loss of cartilage can occur in any place where two bones connect. Although common in fingers and hands, it is also a leading cause of senior back pain. When you suffer from back pain due to osteoarthritis, the bones, or vertebrae, in your spine have lost some or all of the cushioning cartilage between them. The resulting bone contact causes pain.

Spinal Stenosis

According to U.S. News and World Report, spinal stenosis is one of the most common origins of back pain in seniors. If you have spinal stenosis, you have most likely suffered from osteoarthritis for years. As osteoarthritis progresses, it causes a narrowing of the canal that holds your spine in place. That narrowing is spinal stenosis. In addition to pain, spinal stenosis can cause you to suffer from pinched nerves. The nerves most likely to be affected are those in your legs and feet. Nerve signal disruption results may include a loss of some sensation in those areas, occasional cramps or general weakness. You are most likely to experience the majority of your pain and discomfort from spinal stenosis when standing. Sitting or lying down can relieve your spinal column of some stress.

Back Pain as a Result of Other Physical Ailments

Back pain can also occur as a side effect to many other physical ailments. Some of those ailments are more prevalent as you get older. Others can occur at any time during your life, including your senior years. Examples of such conditions include kidney stones and benign or malignant tumors. The only way to identify and treat such conditions is to discuss back pain with your doctor. He or she may be able to diagnose the cause for you.