It's difficult to live a normal life when you have pain in your back. Research shows that 60% to 80% of people will suffer from lower back pain at some point during their lifetime, but it is more common in women than men across all age groups. The prevalence also increases significantly as a person ages.
Dealing with lower back pain can be difficult, especially if it is chronic. The question remains: do women feel it more than men? Although there are many studies on the difference between genders when it comes to dealing with lower back pain, most of them focus on a specific aspect of the problem. Here's what studies tell about the female experience alongside the four common areas of pain.
Some women experience different types of musculoskeletal pain in addition to their lower back pain, including whole-body pain, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and other types of back pain.
Women are more likely than men to have a variety of medical conditions that may contribute to the development or worsening of musculoskeletal pain.
Studies have found a higher case of women experiencing abdominal pain when experiencing lower back pain. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can cause abdominal pain, which is more common in women. The NIH found that females are 3 times as likely to be diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome than males are.
A headache is the most common pain condition women experience in conjunction with lower back pain. A headache can be defined as pain felt in the head. Migraines are one of the most common types of headaches, and they're often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. It is not uncommon for women to have lower back pain and headaches at the same time.
The most common causes for this condition are tension and stress—both emotional and physical. Other possible causes include too much caffeine or alcohol consumption, allergies such as sinus congestion (which leads to inflammation), high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking cigarettes or marijuana (cannabis), lack of sleep, and poor nutrition because you've been dieting too hard.
Studies have shown that women get more headaches than men, and that these are more painful and longer-lasting with more associated symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.
Pelvic pain is a common pain condition women experience alongside lower back pain, often caused by childbirth or, can be a sign of domestic abuse.
Other Causes of Pain
The female experience is not one of constant pain. However, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact points of discomfort. Here are two other causes of women’s pain:
- Lifestyle: Sitting for long periods of time with little exercise can lead to back or neck pain, as well as poor circulation in the extremities which might cause headaches and/or muscle aches. To combat this, try stretching daily in addition to doing planned cardiovascular exercises three times per week for at least thirty minutes each session. If possible, exercises should be done five days a week.
- Menstruation: The fluctuating hormone levels that women go through during their menstrual cycle often leads to different types of inflammation that occur in the lower abdomen, called endometriosis
Cause of Lower Back Pain In Women
Now that you know the different pain areas that come with lower back pain in women, here are some of the most common possible causes of it in women:
Menopause and Hormonal Issues
Chronic lower back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal issues women face during menopause.
Menopause is a time of change, and women may experience pain in their lower backs. If you are experiencing chronic back pain during this transitional period, here are some helpful tips to help alleviate the discomfort.
Women who are experiencing these pains should consider taking over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen for temporary relief from mild aches and pains. Soothing lotions such as Biofreeze can also provide quick relief with very little irritation on sensitive skin areas like your lower back.
Dysmenorrhea is a uterine dysfunction causing frequent and severe cramping in women during menstruation, contributing to back pain and drastically affecting the quality of life for women.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition that can cause back pain in women, occurring when tissues behaving like endometrial tissues go beyond the uterus, pelvic cavity, and other areas.
The condition often goes undetected because of its vague symptoms. It may take years for the development of this disease to be noticeable by an individual or medical professional without any intervention.
A female's reproductive anatomy may contribute to back pain as they're more susceptible to degenerative conditions affecting the structure of their spine. This is because females have a wider pelvis, which puts pressure on their coccyx and sacrum, making them more susceptible to degenerative conditions. In addition, women are usually shorter than men with less muscle mass in their upper backs that also causes increased strain on muscles and ligaments at the neck and shoulder area causing back pain.
Postmenopausal Compression Fractures
Postmenopausal women will likely experience compression fractures of the vertebrae, and they are more common for this group. Middle to lower spine is most often affected. These fractures can be avoided by keeping healthy and active before going into menopause. The body loses bone mass during the senior years, and this may result in compression fractures.
Recognizing the increased risks of these conditions can help in preventing lower back pain in women. Practicing proper posture, using lumbar support, following a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and having regular chiropractic visits can help women keep their spine healthy and lower back pain-free.