Many potential causes of back pain, including disc herniation and muscle strain, can affect anybody at any time. However, some back conditions are more likely to be a source of occasional or persistent discomfort for women more so than men. The Santa Monica spine surgeons at The Spine Institute discuss 5 such conditions.
Women are 5 times more likely than men to have back pain relegated to the tailbone area, also known as coccydynia. Often initiated by a difficult childbirth, coccydynia can be caused by the baby’s head brushing against the tip of the tailbone. Usually temporary, the discomfort from this type of back pain, which can also result from a backward fall, sometimes becomes chronic. Related symptoms may include:
- Lack of sleep/exhaustion
- Pain that gets worse while sitting
- General aches and pains
2. Osteoporosis-Related Compression Fractures
Because osteoporosis is more common in women, related compression fractures (breaks in the spine) are also more likely to affect women. Typically affecting the lower back, these fractures can also reduce spine height and cause a hump to form. Risk factors include:
- Being 45 years of age or older
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Having a smaller frame
- Low bone mass that isn’t low enough to cause osteoporosis (osteopenia)
3. Degenerative Spondylolisthesis
Differences in bone structure and hormones are some of the reasons why women may experience pain from one spinal disc slipping over an adjacent one (spondylolisthesis). Osteoarthritis can be a contributing factor. Age-related changes to muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine may also throw off spinal alignment and cause discs to slip.
4. Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Pregnancy may cause back pain related to the sacroiliac (SI) joint located near the pelvis. Ligaments in this area relax in preparation for childbirth, which also increases the risk of injury to the SI joint. Often mistaken for sciatica, SI joint pain can be experienced as radiating leg pain.
5. Piriformis Syndrome
Most likely to affect women between the ages of 40 and 60, piriformis syndrome may be more common in women due to structural differences with the pelvis. Responsible for keeping the hip joint stable, the piriformis muscle may spasm and aggravate the nearby sciatic nerve. Possible symptoms include:
- Numbness and tingling in legs
- Pain that worsens when walking or going up stairs
- A dull ache in the buttocks area
- Pain that increases while sitting
If you are a woman who has developed one of these conditions or is experiencing another form of severe back pain, you may need minimally invasive back surgery to correct it. Get in touch with Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute Center to see what your options for treatment are. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.