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Baby Boomers and Back Pain: May 30, 2011

Make way for the baby boomers. Experts are predicting their impact on back and spine health care.

It’s no secret that baby boomers blaze a trail in medicine. Doctor’s are now preparing for an increased demand for back pain management as the active boomers begin to feel their age.

That includes Pat Pinner who enjoys a daily dose of exercise.

“Primarily I like to jog, but I also do resistance training or weight training,” he says.

But time is taking it’s toll on his back, on occasion sidelining him with severe pain.

“t’s very painful. A lot of times you’re just completely immobilized, you can’t move, “ he says. “You have to lay in bed until your spasm goes away.”

“We estimate that in 10 years, by 2021, that the presentation of spinal stenosis due to arthritis will double,” says orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Jon Kimball.

Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition that causes a narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of the nerves. It is frequently linked to arthritis.

“We are seeing a much earlier presentation of arthritis. Because people are staying more active and also are expecting more from their bodies as they age,” says Dr. Kimball.

Treatment for spinal stenosis ranges from physical therapy to medication and finally surgery. As the need for treatment swell, so does the development of new technologies.

“We have some newer treatments with surgery that are less invasive or minimally invasive techniques that were perhaps initially created for elderly patients because they wouldn't tolerate the larger surgeries,” says Dr. Kimball.

One demand for the aging boomer: relief that doesn’t jeopardize their passion for play.