Women are more likely to experience back pain than men. Worse, back pain is more likely to become chronic in women than in men.
Why? There are a lot of reasons, but one is that several conditions that more commonly occur in women can cause back pain.
If you are experiencing back pain, seek out the help of a professional to diagnose the root cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan.
Your piriformis muscle is a large muscle deep in the buttock. Spasms in this muscle are more common in women due to hormone and pregnancy-related changes of the pelvis.
When this muscle contracts, it can irritate or compress the sciatic nerve, causing symptoms similar to sciatica.
- Pain when you get out of bed in the morning
- Chronic pain in the hip and buttocks area that worsens with movement of the hips
- Inability to sit in the same position for a long time
- Pain that radiates down your thigh and leg
- Improved symptoms when you lie on your back
Sacroiliac Joint Problems
Your sacroiliac (SI) joint connects the bottom of your spine to your pelvis. SI joint problems are some of the most common causes of lower back pain, and are actually more common in men than in women.
In women, however, the surface area of the SI joint is smaller. This means that stresses across the joint are increased. Because the pelvis is also wider, more uneven, and tilted back, it puts even more pressure on your SI joint.
Common symptoms of SI joint dysfunction include:
- Lower back pain
- Dull or aching pain directly over the buttock, which can occasionally flare into a sharp, radiating pain
- Pain that increases when you sit, lay on the affected side, or climb stairs
The joints of your spine are subjected to a lot of wear and tear, and the vertebrae can become damaged over time. The risk of spinal osteoarthritis is increased in women, and further increases with age or obesity.
Spinal osteoarthritis can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain in the upper or lower back
- Pain in the groin, buttocks, and thighs
- Increased back stiffness and pain in the morning
- Occasional flares of severe pain
- Pain that is worsened when external pressure is applied
- Pain that is relieved when you bend the spine forward
Degenerative Spondyloisthesis (DS)
This mouthful is latin for “slipped vertebral body.” It occurs when one vertebrae slips forward over the one below it. This occurs as a result of the general aging process, which causes the bones, joints, and ligaments of the spine to weaken.
DS is more common in women, especially after menopause. Decreased estrogen levels increase degradation of vertebral discs and loosen the ligaments that hold vertebrae together, causing overall spinal instability.
DS can also occur as a result of osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones, which is common in postmenopausal women.
DS can cause the following symptoms:
- Lower back pain that radiates to your legs
- Increased pain while walking
- Decreased pain when you lean forward
- A tired feeling down the legs after standing for a long period of time or walking
- Decreased pain while sitting
- Decreased flexibility in the lower back
Tailbone Pain and Injuries
Pain in your tailbone, which is the tail end of your spine, occurs largely because of trauma. Lasing pain from tailbone trauma is more common in women than men due to differences in the shape and angle of the pelvis. Tailbone injuries can also occur during childbirth.
The tailbone is the weight-bearing support when you sit, so an injury to this region can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain when sitting down, especially on hard surfaces
- Increased pain from leaning partly backwards while sitting
- Standing up from a seated posture
- Pain that is abruptly relieved when you stand up
Endometriosis is a gynecological condition that exclusively affects women. The endometrium is the tissue that lines your uterus, and is shed during menstruation.
In endometriosis, tissue similar to the endometrium grows outside of your uterus, most commonly in the ovaries and tissue lining the pelvis. This condition is often very painful, and can manifest as back pain.
Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Increased pain during the menstrual period, with pelvic pain and cramping beginning several days before the period, and extending several days into the period
- Pain when moving your bowels or urinating
- Heavy periods
- Lower back pain, especially during menstruation
Because this is a gynecological condition rather than a direct result of spinal damage, it’s best to first consult a gynecologist if you suspect endometriosis.
Spinal Osteoporosis Fractures
Osteoporosis occurs when there is a higher rate of bone loss compared to bone formation, resulting in decreased bone density and increased susceptibility to fractures.
Osteoporosis is most common in postmenopausal women, and may be due to decreases in estrogen following menopause.
Osteoporosis itself can cause small compression fractures in the spine. This can cause the following symptoms:
- Acute localized pain, most commonly in the mid-back or region between the mid- and lower back. The onset of the pain will be sudden, and may occur after a fall or other stress on the spine.
- Pain that radiates to the front of your body, and can be confused with heart or lung problems
A fracture of the spine can be a medical emergency, so if you are experiencing these symptoms, get emergency medical attention.
Reluctance to Seek Help
It may come as no surprise that women have a higher pain tolerance than men, so are less likely to seek out help for back pain. This means that regardless of the cause of back pain, the condition can become more severe due to women’s reluctance to seek out help.
If you are experiencing back pain, we can help diagnose its root cause, giving you a higher chance at relieving debilitating chronic pain and improving your quality of life. Call us at 678-369-6934 or fill out our online appointment request form to get started.