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The Evaluation and Treatment of Low Back Pain in Older Adults

The Evaluation and Treatment of Low Back Pain in Older Adults

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Arto Herno, MD, PhD, Senior Consultant, Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.

The degeneration of the lumbar spine is strongly associated with aging, but this does not mean that pain is an unavoidable accompaniment (though the recorded incidence of low back pain suggests otherwise). Recently, more attention has been drawn to the problem of changes related to the aging of our musculoskeletal system and the associated socioeconomic implications. We now have advanced equipment to examine patients and our store of knowledge is enormous, but the application of this knowledge to a working practical plan at the individual level is problematic. Understanding the automatism of the normal function of the lumbar spine is essential for treating mechanical low back pain because the main goal is to correct this functional disorder. However, the long-term goal of treatment should be to involve patients in their back disorder management.

Key words: aging, degeneration, lumbar spine, low back pain, exercise.