It’s long been an open question in the medical world: do women suffer back pain more often than men? The jury is still out on this one, but there are a few reasons why women could be at a higher risk.
- Exposure to estrogen during puberty may lead to changes in the center of gravity and make it difficult for females to maintain balance when carrying heavy loads or holding certain positions for prolonged periods. The prevalence of chronic low back pain in females is up to three times higher than males, and many studies show that hormones like testosterone and estrogen can affect muscle recovery and inflammation response.
- Less support. Female pelvic bones are more comprehensive than males, putting more pressure on the spine and making it more challenging to support the weight.
- Childbirth. The female pelvis is tenser during pregnancy, increasing stress on lower back muscles and ligaments holding the spine together. This can cause either short-term or even permanent changes in posture.
- Pain tolerance. Women are often less likely to report pain symptoms, which could make it difficult for them to realize they need treatment until they experience severe symptoms. And because women are slower at reporting symptoms, the condition may advance before it is addressed.
- More lack of information. Many patients are reluctant to discuss pain problems with their physicians. Doctors may not ask about these issues on their initial visits, so they don’t get the chance to see that the patient is suffering.
The good news for women is that these risks can be reduced or eliminated if you work with your doctor to find the root of all problems before they progress too far.
Spinal surgery for women
The most common reason for spinal surgery in females is spinal stenosis. This narrowing of the spine can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in your hips, legs, and arms.
- Females have degenerative disk disease more often because their bones are less dense than males’. This can cause bulging or herniated disks that press on nerves causing back pain.
- Women often have osteoporosis or bone loss caused by hormonal changes after menopause. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to degeneration of the joints in your spine.
- Ligament injuries can cause narrowing of the spine. A sprain, strain, or tear in the ligaments holding the spine together can cause pain or weakness.
- Females have slipped discs, which are areas of inflammation on discs that tear through them. If one breaks free, pain can spread to your leg, causing you to fall.
Ways of treatment
There are several ways to prevent or even reverse these risks, but you’ll need to work closely with your doctor.
- Make sure you meet all your weight-bearing requirements. Exercise can make a big difference in your spinal health if done regularly and under the supervision of a professional. They may recommend aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, or swimming to make sure that your heart is vital, as well as strengthening exercises to keep the muscles around the spine strong and flexible. Yoga and Tai Chi are also great ways to build strength and flexibility without putting too much strain on the back.
- Discuss any medications with your doctor that could cause swelling or pain in the lower back area.
- Talk to your doctor about your risk of falling and the most effective way to avert it.
- If you’ve had a severe back injury and need surgery, be sure to talk with your doctor so they can identify the root cause of the problem. They’ll probably recommend spinal fusion for this kind of injury, but that could prevent them from fixing any underlying issues or may leave you with weakness that prevents you from doing daily activities like walking or climbing stairs.
With help from a medical professional and modern spinal surgery devices, you can improve your posture and lower back strength over time and protect yourself from conditions that may require surgical intervention later on in life.
How to avoid back injuries?
While you can’t eliminate the risk of back pain, there are some things that you can do to minimize your chances.
- Wear proper support shoes. Some women find it easy to slip on shoes that are too tight binding their feet and legs, causing back pain. If you buy new shoes for each activity, make sure they fit correctly and support standing or lifting three times your body weight.
- Stand up straight! A slouched or stooped posture puts more strain on your lower spine than a natural standing position, which can lead to injury. This is especially important if you wear high heels, which can cause discomfort due to how they lift your heel off the ground.
- Lift correctly. A study in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy suggests that if you lift with your legs, using them to complete the motion, you’ll use your core muscles for less strain than your back muscles alone. A few simple exercises can help make this more natural, like the Valsalva maneuver or the chest lift where you hold a 20lb weight on your chest and then push it away with your arms.
- Don’t overdo it. Strenuous exercise can put pressure on your back, especially if it’s done too long or too often or if you don’t eat enough to replace the calories that you’ve burned.
- Make sure your shoes are in good condition. If you have trouble with your back, it might be time to get new shoes if your current pair have holes in the sole or can no longer offer proper support for your feet.
- Don’t neglect the rest of your body. Tight hamstrings or lack of flexibility can lead to problems that affect your back, so make sure to stretch and exercise these areas regularly to avoid injuries and pain.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. It’s normal for women to sleep this way, but it puts a lot of pressure on the lower spine and often leads to snoring which puts even more strain on your neck and shoulders.
Women are more susceptible to back problems than men, but there are ways to reduce their risk or even eliminate it if they address any issues promptly. With the help of your doctor, you can make sure that you’re in good shape to take on whatever life has to throw at you. You’ll feel better, look better and help reduce your chances of surgery in the future.