There is a common belief that as you get older your joints and discs tend to wear out. “What do you expect at your age?” and “degenerative disc disease” are often cited, which many older people accept all too easily, unnecessarily suffering for the rest of their lives.
But is this really true?
It is estimated that at least 30% of people aged 30-50 years old will have some degree of disc space degeneration, although many will have no pain. In fact, after you reach 60, some level of disc degeneration is a normal finding on an MRI scan, rather than the exception. Research into this has led many in healthcare to question whether simple physical wear and tear is really responsible and the answer is probably not. Low back pain is much more complex with many factors such as muscle tension, posture, stress, nerve sensitivity and activity levels all playing a part. Although you can’t influence the actual physical changes of aging, many of the other factors you can, so suffering from back pain and sciatica as you get older is not inevitable at all.
A good example of this is David Smart, a 70 year old agricultural consultant, who suffered with back pain and sciatica with weakness in his leg and foot for well over a year.
‘My problem started when I was gardening at Easter 2015. After a day or so, I developed an acute pain in my left hip, down the outside of the leg, and into the ankle. Subsequently, my toes went numb. This meant that I could only hobble, was unable to walk far, and frequently fell over. I also had great difficulty climbing up and down from machinery on the farm on which I work. The pain also is quite debilitating’.
After some time with painkillers from his GP and some physiotherapy he eventually had an MRI scan which showed a degenerative disc in his low back along with a spondylolisthesis (minor slippage)
‘I was then referred on to a spinal surgeon in March 2016. My hopes were high that he would be able to help, so I was devastated to hear that there was nothing he could do for me, and I would have to learn to live with the problems. It also seemed that my age was against me. Luckily, a member of my family happened to see an article on IDD Therapy, and urged me to seek advice from the Sussex Back Pain Clinic.’
David booked an assessment and after a thorough examination, was advised that IDD Therapy to decompress his disc and relax his spinal muscles would be ideal for his case.
‘I was apprehensive going in to my first session, but was swiftly put at ease. They were always helpful with questions and encouragement. Even after my first session, some feeling returned to my toes, and I quickly found, after subsequent treatments, that I was able to begin walking. I may be lucky that I experienced so much improvement so early on, but as one would expect, further progress has been more measured. I am now able to gradually walk further and find climbing up and down machinery much easier’.
David was very worried about going away on an anniversary holiday which he had booked the year before.
‘I was beginning to dread it, as I was so physically hampered. As it turned out, I was able to really enjoy it due to my increased mobility.’
He completed his treatment at the end of June 2016 and has no pain and is much more mobile, but still needs to build up the strength in his wasted leg and foot muscles.
‘One further thought I had, was that with surgical intervention, I would have needed about 12 weeks off work. As it was, having IDD Therapy, and being careful, I have not been off work at all. Being self-employed, this has been a tremendous asset. Anyone with back pain, should at least contact the Sussex Back Pain Clinic for an assessment. There is no need to endure pain for any length of time, as this can be quite draining of strength and stamina, and I find they are anxious to help if they can.’
We’ve been a part of the Hove community for over 30 years at Sussex Back Pain Clinic, working to alleviate back pain in all its forms. Since 2010, we’ve been offering IDD Therapy as a non-invasive way to treat disc problems. If you’ve been struggling with your back pain and previous treatments haven’t hit the mark, we’re here to help. Just call us at 01273 201866. We’re ready to talk about your pain and see if IDD Therapy could be the missing piece in your recovery journey.
Get started on the road to recovery.