What should we do? Our 93-year old grandma has constant back pain. How can we help her?

Back pain appears to be a common problem for adults of all ages from 20 to 100+. Since function and quality of life are clearly affected by pain, treatment at any age is advised.

The first step is to have a medical exam. Back pain could be a sign of a bladder infection or bowel impaction. Simple medical treatment may bring quick and easy pain relief.

Back pain can also be from something more serious such as a vertebral compression fracture related to osteoporosis. Treatment isn't quite as simple, but there are still effective ways to approach the problem.

And even in the case of cancer metastasized to the bone, there are conservative ways to treat the problem palliatively -- that means to treat the pain and at least make the patient more comfortable.

Since more and more adults are living past the 100-year mark, it's possible your grandmother could live another 10 years. Quality of life at any age is important. Pain isn't inevitable. Something can be done to help.

Make an appointment today with her primary care physician. It may take a bit of time to sort through all the factors and find the best treatment. She'll likely need your assistance along the way. Don't give up if the first treatment approach doesn't work. Sometimes a specific type of back pain responds better to one method over another. It takes time to identify all the variables involved.


Jan Hartvigsen, DC, PhD, and Kaare Christensen, MD, PhD. Pain in the Back and Neck Are with Us Until the End. In Spine. April 15, 2008. Vol. 33. No. 8. Pp. 909-913.


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