Back pain in women after 40; experts on surprising causes and prevention tips
In women, back pain is more common than men due to a variety of reasons, especially after 40. Here are causes and prevention tips by experts.
If you are nearing 40, your chances of getting a recurrent, irritating back pain, can go up. Your odds of getting a lower or upper back pain will only increase with each passing year considering the wear and tear in your spine area accelerate with ageing. In women, back pain is more common than men due to a variety of reasons. We asked a gynaecologist and a physiotherapist about the reasons why the ladies aged 40 and above are more susceptible to experience back ache compared to men of the same age.
It's not that younger women do not experience back pain. The reasons of back pain in young women could range from muscle or ligament sprain, improper movement or a jerk, herniated or degenerated disc or sciatica. Then there are gynaecological causes of back pain such as premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), and pregnancy, says Dr Shweta Shah, Full-time Consultant - OBGY, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, Malad.
During pregnancy, the spine undergoes a change called exaggerated lumbar lordosis, which along with hormonal changes and increased weight over the spine, leads to back pain if the muscles are not strong enough.
CAUSES OF BACK PAIN IN WOMEN OVER 40
Pragnya Ravichandran Executive Physiotherapist Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, T Nagar -Chenna says back pain is more common in women who conceive during the fourth decade of their life.
"In case of pregnancy during the fourth decade of life, a woman has to manage the repercussions of the ageing body as well as the pregnancy-related physical changes that happen to their musculoskeletal system. Poor physical activity and higher BMI during the preconception period can increase the risk of low back pain for women who get pregnant in their 40s," says the physiotherapist.
Dr Shah says women aged 40 years and above are likely to develop osteoporosis and osteopenia, which could be an indirect reason for back pain. "In addition, women in this age group experience the perimenopausal period due to reduced estrogen levels, which affects their bone health. The reasons for back pain are spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc, spinal stenosis and degeneration of the spine and body, which is an age-related process," says the gynaecologist.
Dr Shah feels obesity is yet another important cause of back pain, especially if the BMI is above 30.
"Women should take active measures to maintain a healthy spine and back by adopting a healthy life pattern. They should pay attention to their posture health and keep their spine straight. It is advisable to seek medical consultation for consuming vitamin D and calcium supplements while exercising regularly," says Dr Shah.
Ageing is an inevitable change that happens to every human being. For women, even before she reaches this process of ageing, she undergoes a lot of physiological changes happening at every decade in her life. And these physiological changes are directed by the hormones in preparing her for bearing a child. "As women reach mid 40’s, they may be around their perimenopausal period, and dip in estrogen levels can cause various physical changes within her and predominantly affect the musculoskeletal system," says Ravichandran.
Low back pain and pelvic pain are a common problem that every woman in their mid-40’s experiences.
"Risk factors include sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise, poor nutritional habits, overweight and obesity, metabolic diseases, poor bone mineral density due to hormonal changes, psychological stress, changes in circadian rhythm affecting sleep pattern, Vitamin D deficiencies, bone degeneration, muscle atrophy and sarcopenic changes due to ageing etc," says Ravichandran.
TIPS TO PREVENT AND TREAT BACK PAIN IN WOMEN OVER 40
- Exercise plays a key role in controlling these factors. Each and every type of exercise such as aerobics training, strength and endurance training, flexibility, balance and coordination training majorly helps managing these risk factors and preventing low back pain. Recent research has shown lower risk of low back pain in women who exercise at least 3 to 5 days a week, consisting of moderate intensity exercises.
- Women should pay attention to their posture health and keep their spine straight.
- It is advisable to seek medical consultation for consuming vitamin D and calcium supplements while exercising regularly.
- Doctors suggest serious efforts toward weight loss and maintaining a normal weight are advised to overweight women.
"Women should seek appropriate consultation and diagnosis if they have been experiencing back pain for more than 2 -3 weeks. Accurate diagnosis of back pain is essential, whether it is acute or chronic, specific or non-specific, is very important for proper treatment and best possible recovery," concludes Dr Shah.