Although women don’t suffer back pain more than their male counterparts, there are some circumstances in which back pain presents that are solely female. From the moment of her first menstrual cycle, a woman is at risk of suffering from menstrual related back pain. The good news is that back pain related to a woman’s period is usually combined with typical symptoms such as headaches or migraines, cramps, fatigue and lightheadedness.
Back pain related to your menstrual cycle typically begin a few days prior to the start of the cycle—part of your pre-menstrual syndromes (PMS)—and dissipates slowly as the end of the cycle nears.
There is not one specific factor that can link back pain and the menstrual cycle of a woman, but rather there are many different causes. One factor doctors have found is the hormone that causes period cramps, prostaglandin. These hormones are worse in some women, which may explain why some women experience severe back pain while others have virtually none.
Daily factors like a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to back pain during menstrual periods. Lack of physical activity can lead to bad health, but it can also exacerbate already sore or injured muscles. If you experience back pain during your period, exercise can help reduce abdominal cramps as well as back pain.
Several other factors contribute to back pain during a woman’s monthly cycle, including;
- Contraceptives such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) may cause discomfort during the period, which can increase abdominal cramps and back pain.
- If you have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), the associated pelvic swelling can cause lower back pain. Lower back pain is also a symptom of PID, which can worsen during the menstrual cycle.
- Women who suffer from endometriosis will suffer from worsening back pain during their periods, particularly as they get older.
Treating Menstrual-Related Back Pain
Treating back pain during a period is quite similar to the treatments one would use to treat back pain in general. Many over the counter menstrual drugs contain painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen or naproxen. The same ingredients that are used to dull abdominal cramps can be effective in alleviated back pain as well. If over the counter meds are ineffective, you may have to get your physician to prescribe a stronger painkillers.
Because back pain can be due to certain hormones, switching birth control may eliminate back pain altogether or lessen the effects of it during your menstrual period.
If you’d rather steer clear of pills to treat back pain during your period, there are a few different natural treatments that have been shown to reduce back pain. Firstly hot and cold compresses can prove highly effective. Cold compresses will reduce swelling around back muscles while the hot compresses will provide pain relief.
Electric heating pads can also reduce cramps and back pain, but these are temporary fixes for what can be a long term problem. A visit to your chiropractor may also help with period related back pain.
Lifestyle changes are very important in reducing back pain—menstrual or otherwise—because it works the muscles so they never get to weak to perform properly. Stretching and exercise are excellent for relaxing muscles and building up muscle strength so they are less susceptible to back pain. Additionally, physically active women suffer less severe and fewer menstrual symptoms overall.
A healthy diet can also improve your menstrual symptoms, including back pain. A diet rich in vitamin B and magnesium can regulate hormone output so you don’t suffer from producing too much of any one hormone. Foods that will improve your intake of these nutrients include whole grains, cocoa (dark not milk or white), Brazil nuts, spinach and artichokes.
A healthy diet should also include sufficient amounts of water, which means at least 64 ounces each day. Being dehydrated can worsen many different problems related to menstruation including cramping and back pain. Drinking water won’t get rid of back pain, but it will certainly lessen the pain you feel each month.
When treating menstrual back pain, begin with the easy treatments such as diet and exercise and compresses. If the pain doesn’t lessen, try the next step including massage and acupressure until you’ve found a treatment plan that works.