Most women will suffer back pain at some point during their lives. In some cases, the source of the pain will be a condition that can affect both genders. However, there are also causes of back pain that are unique to females. For all women, it’s important to have an understanding of both gender-specific and gender-neutral causes, as well as factors that put them at greater risk for back pain.
Work-Related Back Pain
Back pain is the number one reason for employees to miss work. Although women are somewhat less likely than men to develop work-related herniated discs or muscular injuries of the back, these injuries are increasing as more female workers fill positions traditionally held by males. Both men and women are at a higher risk of back pain if they have jobs that require repetitive motion or if their work involves hard physical labor on a regular basis. Women who are confined to chairs or who drive extensively during their workday can also develop painful back conditions.
Other Causes of Back Pain in Women
Of course, a work-related injury isn’t the only cause of back pain. Car accidents, falls, muscle sprains, strains and fractures, on or off the job, can all cause painful back conditions in women. Likewise, lifestyle choices can be factors, such as:
- Poor posture
- Not exercising
- Wearing high heels
- Being overweight
It’s also important to consider emotions, which often bring on pain. Stress can cause muscle tension in the back, and depression and anxiety can amplify the pain. As well, back pain can be caused by specific medical conditions including:
- Infection of the bones or discs of the spine (Osteomyelitis)
- Kidney stones
Uniquely Female Back Conditions
There are also certain conditions that only affect women that can cause back pain.
- Pregnancy back pain – Stress caused by physical changes in a mom-to-be can cause pregnancy-related back pain, especially during the third trimester.
- Large breast back pain – This can be a lifelong issue for some women caused by the constant stress that heavy breasts put on the spine.
- Menstrual pain (Dysmenorrhea) – Menstrual cramps, caused by contractions in the uterus, are commonly felt in the lower back.
- Endometriosis – When the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, it can cause chronic pain in the lower back and severe menstrual cramps that get worse over time.
Overcoming Back Pain
Because there are many causes of back pain in women, it’s important to talk with your physician if your back isn’t feeling right. Depending on the cause, your treatment may include lifestyle modification, medication or surgery.
Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about back pain. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.