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One day out of the blue my 90 year old mom began complaining about pain in her lower back. She hasn't fallen or done anything strenuous. On the third day she could barely get out of bed. Advil, aspercream and a heating pad helped a little but I was worried. Took her to doctor's office - she's saw a PA; her primary doctor was on vacation. Her urinalysis was negative. PA said its just old age and prescribed a heavy duty ibuprofen which is a narcotic! It's easing her pain much better than Advil but I wonder if a different bed mattress or buying an egg crate mattress topper would help so she's not dependent on pain medication. Any advice? To wake up one day with lower back pain is strange to me. Maybe she slept wrong?

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hi. my Mom is 95 years old and has lower back pain also, after discussing it with the Dr and tests he decided to prescribe VOLTAREN GEL anti-nflammatory (NSAID), this has helped her. You might want to ask your Dr about this. God Bless.
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My 95-year old mom swears by her heating pad. She's got it on about every time I see her. I'd also get further imaging done, but try some heat to see if that helps, if it's more muscle-related.
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I want to second the idea that further imaging would be useful. Sometimes compression fractures are not seen on xrays.

Is your mother getting a pain reliever that has ibuprofen in it, with codeine or some other narcotic in it? Perhaps that's where the confusion is; Ibuprofen itself is not a narcotic, it's an NSAID ( non steroidal anti inflammatory drug)
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I would get a second opinion. Sometimes low back pain out of the blue is bone cancer. Need to get that checked out. Ibuprofen itself is not a narcotic; it's the generic name for Advil. . Morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone are narcotics. Some of these use tylenol as an additive to keep addicts from misusing the pills. You need to hear from the health care provider if the problem is and injury such as 1) bone 2) joint 3) muscle or 4) ligament; or some other actual disease process. An X-ray, MRI, etc should be helpful with this as well. In the mean time, common methods of reducing pain technically are: ice packs, heat packs, massage, sitting in a recliner, lying on your side with a pillow between your knees. One note, if it is bone cancer, using heat to treat the pain may speed the spread of the cancer, so no the best choice there.... In short, get a new provider pronto.
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Sorry - I forgot to address your question on mattresses. I think an egg crate mattress or alternating pressure pad mattress (scripted for by a doctor) would help, but I would first focus on finding the cause of the back pain to see if it can be treated by something more permanent and less caustic than Ibuprofen.
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AG, I'm not particularly impressed with the "old age" Dx either - I began to see that with a rehab specialist doctor and promptly dumped him - his opinion was that my father's pain was due to "old age", and there was nothing that could be done except take meds. Phooey.

Was the PA who treated your mother in an orthopedic medical practice? If not, I'd find a good orthopedic doctor as opposed to a primary care doctor. An MRI might even be ordered to give more insight into your mother's spinal situation. That's what typically happens when I go to an ortho doctor. The MRI will provide much more information on your mother's spinal condition.

I don't believe that old causes spontaneous lower back pain that just worsens. Something caused this.

One thing that might help is a combination of aromatherapy and a modality: it's an herbal scented heating pad. I use them exclusively. The mixture of geranium and cinnamon relaxes me well before the heat does.

Another thing you might get from an orthopedic doctor is a script for therapy. If your mother can get to a PT facility, she can have other modality treatments, such as ultrasound or TENS, depending on the PT's diagnosis. I found both to be very helpful, especially the TENS.

I don't know whether u/s or TENS units are available for PT in home, but I do know that TENS units can be purchased, and the caregiver taught how to use them properly. This would something to discuss with an orthopedic doctor.

Something else to consider is a back brace. I was originally opposed to using them, as were my father's doctor's, b/c we wanted him to regain his postural strength through exercise. But eventually the osteoporosis was too severe to be altered (helped, yet, but not changed) by exercise. So I got him a back brace which he wears when we go to medical visits or shopping, and it helps immensely. We bought Dad's at a DME supplier store.

Best wishes in solving this dilemma.
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@babalou...yes, X-rays were taken to check for fractures cuz my mom does have osteoporosis - thankfully there were no fractures. I plan to taker her back to see her doctor once he returns from his vacation. Right now pain med is helping but it makes her sleepy. I don't want her to now be bed bound if we can help it.
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One more thing, my mother has been helped tremendously by pain medication delivered via patch at the site of the fracture.
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Did the PA send her for xrays? My mom has compression fractures in the spine that are the result of osteoporosis. Sometimes there are treatments that can help this condition.

I am unimpressed with medical professionals who attribute conditions to old age. I think I'd seek a second opinion, perhaps from an orthopedic doctor.
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