As people age, they often have more aches and pains than they did when they were younger, and they are especially prone to having pain in the hips and legs. There are explanations for why this is the case, and there are treatment options available.
As the body ages, the spinal discs that provide stability and joint motion to our spine slowly but progressively degenerate. As a disc degenerates, it can herniate into the spinal canal. The weakest spot along the outer core of the disc is directly under the spinal nerve root. Thus a herniation in this area puts direct pressure on the nerve, which in turn can cause sciatica with pain that radiates down the leg. Nearly everyone experiences lower back and leg pain at some point in their life.
People experiencing back, hip, and leg pain are diagnosed most often using a combination of clinical criteria and imaging of the spine, often with an MRI. This enables doctors to determine whether there is any disc degeneration, hernias or pressure on nerve endings. Once a diagnosis is made, it is possible to determine which treatment options are needed.
Treatment options depend on the severity of the pain, the cause of the pain, and how long symptoms have been present. Treatments often include watchful waiting, activity modification, physical therapy, orthotics, spinal blocks, and anti-inflammatory medications. Most patients suffering from back, hip, and leg pain gain complete pain relief from these types of treatment, or at the very least, a significant improvement. In rare cases these treatments don’t work and surgery is necessary.
Because pain can increase with age, it is especially important to take care of your back as you get older. Use proper lifting techniques, stretch before exercising, and eat a well-balanced diet.