Lower back pain can be caused by abnormalities in the soft tissues, nerves, discs, or vertebrae or the lumbar spine. In women, lower back pain can also result from factors such as pregnancy and birth which can put added stress on the spine. Here are some common causes of back pain in women.
Soft tissue, including the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, can become strained from poor posture, over exertion, lifting, physical stress, general wear and tear, and injury. Soft tissue injuries can cause painful muscle spasms, stiffness, or muscle tension in the lower back. A back strain is more likely during pregnancy because the ligaments become softer and can stretch more to allow for the growing fetus and birth process. It can also come from heavy lifting or carrying heavy or awkwardly placed items, like a backpack or a child in a sling.
Sciatica and Nerve Compression
The sciatic nerve is the long, thick nerve that extends from your lower back down to your feet. Should this nerve become compressed pinched, irritated or inflamed, it can cause pain, weakness and tingling that can extend from the lower back down through the back of the leg and foot. Sciatic nerve pain and compression also can occur from structural changes in the spine such as bone spurs, abnormal bone overgrowths caused by osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and pressure. Some degenerative diseases cause the spinal structures to thicken and the spinal canal to narrow which puts pressure on nerves and the spinal cord.
Discs are cushion-like pads that act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae \ in the spine. A herniated disc occurs when the outer disc layer tears and its soft, gel-like center leaks out. This can irritate and put pressure on surrounding nerves and spinal cord which can cause severe pain.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that causes the discs between the vertebrae to deteriorate, which puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and can cause the vertebrae bones to rub together. Conditions such as osteoarthritis can cause the discs to deteriorate and collapse, causing pain and making the spine structurally unstable. A deficiency in estrogen levels is also thought to accelerate disc degeneration.
Facet Joint Syndrome
The facet joints connect the vertebrae together allowing them to bend and twist, which the cartilage allows them to move smoothly. The natural aging process can cause the cartilage to wear away or become inflamed, which can lead to painful bone-on-bone rubbing and restricted movement. Pain signals can also be triggered in nearby nerve endings. Spine conditions such as arthritis, injury, infection, and nerve compression can also contribute to facet joint syndrome.
Menstrual Pain and Endometriosis
Many women complain of lower back pain before and during their monthly cycles, especially if they have endometriosis. This pain is due to hormonal changes that promote contractions that result in the release of the uterine lining each month. These contractions can cause moderate to severe pain that radiates throughout the lower back and abdomen.
Depending on the cause and severity of lower back pain symptoms, treatment types can vary. Many back problems such as a strain, sciatica and nerve compression can usually be treated with non-surgical treatments including medication, injections, and physical therapy. Surgery may be recommended if the spine has become unstable or if pain cannot be relieved by non-surgical treatments.
Kamerlink Pain Institute for all Your Back Pain Needs
If you are dealing with lower back pain and want to explore ways to better manage it, contact the experts at Kamerlink Pain Institute, where Harvard trained board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management physician Dr. Jonathan Kamerlink is ready to help you overcome your chronic pain. Dr. Kamerlink knows that no one should have to live with pain, and will work with you to find the most effective, interventional pain management to help you restore your quality of life. To make an appointment at our office in Boca Raton, call (561) 404-7667 or request an appointment online.