House Calls

Laurence McKinley, M.D.

Orthopedic Surgeon
Pacific Spine Clinic, Escondido

It seems like my back aches more frequently. Is it just part of aging or should I get a firmer mattress to sleep on?

Answer: “Back aches are the largest source of disability worldwide, so you are definitely not alone with your complaint. Most back pain comes from minor trauma – accidents or injuries – or strains from improper or heavy lifting. Aging also plays a part and may result in compression fractures of the spine due to osteoporosis. It is recommended that women have regular osteoporosis screenings and take the appropriate amount of calcium or prescribed medication to help prevent bone loss.


Most often, back pain can be treated at home with rest, a heating pad or ice pack, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. It is very important to seek immediate medical care if pain radiates down the leg, if you have any leg weakness or if you experience a change in bowel or bladder function. Also, ask to see your doctor if your back pain isn’t improved within a week.

You can take steps to prevent back pain and injury by maintaining your recommended weight and exercising at least four times a week. Beneficial exercises include walking, stretching and swimming.”