December 23, 2022
If your aging loved one has complained about neck pain recently, he’s not alone. Back and neck pain for the elderly is just about as common as gray hair. It occurs in most elderly people as the body ages.
While having some aches and pains is normal, there are also times when neck pain is serious and needs an immediate check-up from your loved one’s doctor. If your loved one shares that he has any of these symptoms, or if you or his home care assistance team notice them, plan a visit to his physician sooner than later to see if the cause of his neck pain needs to be investigated further.
There are three main causes of neck pain for the elderly. Even if your loved one isn’t experiencing any of the additional symptoms listed above, going to his regular physician may help him determine the root of his discomfort, and then help you and his home care assistance team work on a plan to help your parent alleviate the pain he’s been experiencing.
When people age, it’s not uncommon that the discs in their neck dry out and become less spongy. This makes it painful to move occasionally, or can make a sudden movement even more jarring. Since discs absorb shock as a person walks or moves around a lot, your loved one might complain about a neck ache after a long walk. Chores around the home, such as mowing the lawn or shoveling snow, may also cause neck pain. Having a home care assistance team that can help with those types of activities can help prevent your loved one from triggering more neck pain.
Joints connect the neck vertebrae lined with cartilage, a flexible, elastic tissue. As your loved one gets older, the cartilage starts to disappear. At the same time, the discs lose water and become narrow, adding more pressure to the joints. This pressure causes inflammation and can lead to pain and discomfort. When the pain is primarily in the neck, it could be due to cervical spondylosis (arthritis of the neck).
Many elderly people have pain due to spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis occurs when one or more areas of the spine become narrower. The narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, causing pain, numbness, or cramping.
While neck and back pain may be a “normal” part of aging, your loved one can help reduce the pressure on his spine by making sure his weight stays within a healthy range. Each pound puts more pressure on the back, so if he’s overweight, even losing a few pounds may provide some relief.