How Seniors Can Manage Back Pain

Last Updated on by Artem

Back pain is an all too common experience among American adults. Researchers at the National Center For Health Statistics recently revealed that almost half (39%) of American men and women suffer from back pain. Additionally, adults over the age of 65, especially postmenopausal women and individuals living below the poverty line, show higher incidences of musculoskeletal pain than other demographics.

However, just because these incidences are common does not mean that they are unavoidable. As an older adult, you can decrease your likelihood of experiencing back pain by taking proper care of your body. Intervention strategies such as physical therapy and medication can help you manage existing pain, while prevention strategies such as exercising regularly and using ergonomic equipment can help you reduce risks. Here’s how.

Physical Therapy

If you’re already suffering from back pain, prevent your condition from worsening by seeing a physical therapist. Physical therapists can treat musculoskeletal pains by administering treatments such as a massage, heat application, ice packs, and electrical stimulation. Patients who want to play a more active role in their recovery can also try active physical therapy. At active physical therapy, your physical therapist will guide you through a series of stretches and exercises to strengthen and improve the function of your back muscles.

Original Medicare can cover the cost of physical therapy, given your primary care provider deems it medically necessary. AARP shows that Medicare Part A, which covers hospital services, may reimburse physical therapy sessions conducted at inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Medicare Part B, which covers medical services, can cover physical therapy you receive at therapist offices, outpatient rehabilitation facilities, or Medicare-certified home health agencies.


Medicine may also provide some relief for back pain. According to the National Library of Medicine, most healthcare providers would recommend acetaminophen like Tylenol, an over-the-counter medication that works through the central nervous system to relieve musculoskeletal pain. More severe pain can be managed using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen, which reduce swelling around the spinal disks.

Since these drugs do not require prescriptions to obtain, they cannot be reimbursed by Medicare’s drug coverage plan, Medicare Part D. If you want Medicare to cover non-prescription drugs, you might have to seek private insurers offering over-the-counter benefits.


Exercise doesn’t just provide pain relief, it also strengthens your muscles to prevent further pain in the future. Pump blood into your back muscles by engaging in low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, and biking. You can also try yoga to improve your back’s strength and flexibility.

Seniors that want to engage in physical activity can even check whether their Medicare plans offer fitness benefits. KelseyCare Advantage shows that Medicare Advantage plans can include memberships to senior-focused fitness programs that give seniors access to gyms and workout equipment. Given that the live exercise classes and instructional videos these programs provide have been specifically designed to accommodate the limitations of older adults, seniors can leverage these programs to learn exercises with little risk of injury.

Use Ergonomic Equipment

Older adults can also take care of their backs by using ergonomic equipment to ensure a correct posture. If you spend a lot of time at your computer, use an ergonomic chair to keep your backs properly supported while seated at your desk. Add a seat cushion if you want to boost your comfort and reduce strain on your lower back. You can even wear a posture corrector around your shoulders to keep your spine erect and prevent slouching. My Ergonomic Chair’s product guides can help you choose the best ergonomic equipment for your situation.

As common as back pain may be, it’s also easy to manage and prevent. Ergonomic equipment, exercise, medication, and physical therapy, can all help older adults manage back pain.