Back pain is an epidemic in the United States – if we aren’t personally being affected by it, our parents, siblings, friends, and coworkers are. How many times has your hike, workout, or ski day been cancelled due to back pain? How many times will it be?
As widespread as back pain is, it is often misunderstood. People are quick to attribute their pain to structural changes such as herniated discs or decreased space between the vertebrae, but for many women the reality is that those structural changes often have nothing to do with your pain, and treating them alone (via surgery, back braces, or medication) won’t keep back pain from interrupting your life.
Here are 5 things to consider when you have back pain – none of which have anything to do with your back.
- Your Hormones–Did you know that women have back pain more often than men? Particularly in early adolescence and after menopause, possibly due to hormone fluctuations. Hormone imbalances, beyond impacting pain, can also play a role in things like fatigue, mood swings, appetite, and other biological processes, and treating the imbalance can have a really big impact on improving your quality of life.
- Feeling Overwhelmed–Have you ever noticed that your pain was worse when you were working under a tight deadline at work, or when your parent was in the hospital, or when your kids were going through a sleep regression? Our bodies developed our fight or flight response to be able to get us out of danger from predators, but many of us are feeling its effects far more often than we are outrunning a saber-toothed tiger. Increased or prolonged stress can decrease our tolerance for pain, making it worse, and amplifying the amount that it interrupts our lives.
- Your baby-Regardless of whether your baby is currently in the oven or out and interrupting your sleep (see above), they can have change how we move on a daily basis. If you are currently pregnant, the fact that your center of gravity is regularly changing and impacting your posture can trigger discomfort in your back. If you are no longer pregnant, but constantly lifting and carrying baby, car seat, stroller, and diaper bags without a strategy for a changed body, that can also contribute to back pain.
- Endometriosis-Endo is a disease in which the lining of your uterus escapes its designated home and creates camps in other places it doesn’t have any business being (your abdominal cavity, your fallopian tubes, or in the case of back pain, in your back). Unfortunately Endo can have a very prolonged time to diagnosis and impacts between 10-15% of women of reproductive age, which is why I screen for it in my female patients. People with endometriosis typically experience pain that is cyclical – often worse before or during menstruation, and is often accompanied by pelvic pain and pain with sex.
- Your Pelvic Floor– The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that sits between the front and the back of your bony pelvis. It has a sexual function, is important to stability, and keeps you from peeing your pants. Basically, it’s a big deal. Your pelvic floor muscles can get tight and cause discomfort, either in your pelvis, or in your low back. Among other things pelvic floor dysfunction can cause leaking when you laugh, jump, cough, or sneeze. It can also cause pain with sex or force you to have to pee more than 8 times per day. It can also cause chronic constipation, or prolonged pain in the pelvis, hips, or low back.
Regardless of the cause of your back pain, you do not have to live with it. Women are notorious for taking care of others while not taking care of themselves. For a change let someone else help take care of you. You deserve to be taken care of, and you deserve to live a life without pain.
For more information visit our Women’s Health Page or for faster help Click the button below to schedule your Free 20 Minute Women’s Health Discovery Visit to see if we might be a good fit for figuring out the root cause of your issues so you can live a pain free active lifestyle without the fears associated with back, pelvis, or hip pain, or leaking.