Lower Back Pain in Women: Possible Diagnoses & Treatments
What causes lower back pain? This condition is common, often painful, and can even be debilitating—impacting muscles, bones, nerves, and other parts of the body.
While some causes of lower back pain are specific to females, others are more general and could affect anyone. Read on to learn the general causes of lower back pain and most common causes of lower back pain in women.
General Conditions and Causes
Below are some of the most common causes of lower back pain in men and women.
A muscle or ligament strain is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. Movements that can strain muscles or ligaments include repeated heavy lifting, sudden awkward movements, awkward twisting or bending, or overstretching. Continuous repetition of these types of movements can eventually cause back spasms.
A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs that cushions your vertebrae gets compressed and bulges outward, which can eventually cause the disc to rupture. You may experience pain caused by the bulging disc pressing on a nerve. While the lower back is the most common place for a herniated disc, it can also affect your neck. Herniated discs can be caused by an injury and are more likely to occur when you get older.
Disc degeneration occurs with age, resulting from the discs in your spine wearing down naturally, injuries, or repetitive motions. Disc degeneration is typically experienced after age 40 and is most common in one’s neck or lower back. While it doesn’t always cause pain, it can cause severe pain that comes and goes.
Below are some of the most common causes of lower back pain in women.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
One of the most common causes of lower back pain in women is PMS. Many women experience PMS in the days approaching their periods, resulting in a range of physical and emotional or behavioral symptoms. In addition to lower back pain and general fatigue, women may also experience mood swings, headaches, and bloating. PMS symptoms typically subside within a day or two after a woman’s period begins.
Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder (PMDD) and Dysmenorrhea
Unlike PMS, PMDD is a more severe condition with symptoms that interfere with daily life. PMDD is not as common as PMS, but the symptoms may be similar with increased intensity. Symptoms typically begin the week before a woman’s period and subside a few days after it begins. Women with a family history of mood disorders or PMDD may be at an increased risk for this condition.
Additionally, dysmenorrhea—a very painful type of menstruation—can cause pain in the lower back, lower abdomen, legs, and hips. This discomfort can range from dull aches to shooting pains and typically lasts between one to three days.
Endometriosis is when the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus—typically on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or even the urinary tract and bowel. It can cause lower back pain in women as well as pelvic pain, painful menstrual cramps, digestive issues, and bleeding or spotting between periods.
One of the most common causes of lower back pain in women is pregnancy. This is because women will experience weight gain, causing a shift in their center of gravity, and hormones will relax their ligaments. Most pregnant women experience back pain between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy, but pain can start earlier. Lower back pain during pregnancy typically occurs below one’s waist, across one’s tailbone, and in the center of your back.
When it comes to treating causes of lower back pain in females, specific home remedies can help. These include a heating pad or warm bath, gentle stretches, ice packs, a pillow or chair with lumbar support, or over-the-counter painkillers.
In more severe cases, such as when your lower back pain is debilitating, you’re unable to stand or walk, or home remedies do not improve your condition after a week, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. They will be able to determine the best course of action and provide a specialized treatment plan.
How We Can Help
Understanding what causes lower back pain in females is the first step toward seeking treatment for this common condition. Your next plan of action should include seeking treatment from a qualified team of professionals.
At the Department of Orthopaedics at Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School, we are proud to offer patients state-of-the-art orthopaedic care. We treat various spinal conditions, including herniated discs, spine trauma, sciatica, and more. To learn more about how we can treat your lower back pain or related issues, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians today.