Back pain affects nearly half of well-functioning, highly active older adults

In a Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study, many well-functioning and highly active older adults experienced back pain, which was linked with poorer perceived and observed walking endurance.

"Older adults are living longer and healthier active lives, so paying attention to conditions that may threaten independent function is increasingly important," said lead author Dr. Eleanor Simonsick, of the National Institute on Aging. "In this study, we found that back pain affected nearly half of well-functioning, highly active older adults. We also found that back pain was linked to less energy efficient walking and poorer endurance, which can lead to walking difficulties. These findings suggest that better back pain management may help older adults remain active and free of mobility limitation."

The authors noted that it will be important to study whether back pain may serve as a catalyst for future loss of mobility in active older individuals.

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