Back pain is one of the common problems seen in people across all age groups. But unlike men, there are a lot of changes that happen in a woman with age right from hormonal changes to menstruation and pregnancy that take a toll on the back. Whether you’re a working woman or a housewife, it goes without saying that every woman has massive workload and long working hours both at office and home which affects her overall health. However, the back and the spinal cord which are the pillars of the body are the ones that are most affected. This, in the long run, can lead to symptoms such as back pain. Dr. Neha Narula, Senior Spine Specialist, QI Spine Clinic, Mumbai explains why women are more prone to back pain and how to take charge.
Why Women Are More Prone To Back Pain
Any woman can experience back pain irrespective of her age. The common causes of back pain in women can range from gradual wear and tear to the risk of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, which increases as you age. Moreover, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause which form the three significant phases in a woman’s life can lead to severe hormonal changes in the body which happens with age. This can also affect the overall health including the back and spine of a woman.
Women of different age groups experience pain in the back for reasons ranging from gradual wear and tear of bone and muscles to hormone level fluctuation, menstruation, pregnancy, and degenerative diseases at an advanced age.
Causes Of Back Pain in the 20s, 30s/40s, and 50s/60s
There are various causes of back pain in women in different age groups. Here are some of the common causes in your 20s to 60s along with tips to help overcome it:
Back pain in your 20’s
One of the key reasons for back pain at such a young age is due to poor posture. In order to avoid back pain in the 20s, it is important to maintain the right posture. It is advised to avoid slouching or sitting in one place for a long period of time. Also, limit the use of gadgets such as laptops and mobile phones as it puts unnecessary pressure on the back. If you have a desk job and have to use laptops for long hours, opt for laptop stands and ergonomic chairs as it eases pressure on the back.
Additionally, following tips such as warming before exercising and utilizing the right techniques while working out can help to prevent back pain. Avoid high heels and tight clothes and don’t carry over-weight backpacks.
Back pain in your 30’s and 40’s
Most women are not aware of the fact that bone degeneration starts in your 30’s, which is the normal biological process. Although you cannot stop the normal process of aging but can improve the strength in your back muscles which can delay the process and ease the pressure on the spine.
To take care of you back in your 30s, it is important to maintain the right posture while sitting, standing, bending (while picking up things or children) or lifting weights. Also, during pregnancy, it is important to eat the right diet to improve bone health and lessen the pressure on the back. Bone resorption (calcium homeostasis) in lactating women results in the bone loss, so ensure that your diet is loaded with calcium-rich foods. Engage in pre-natal and post-natal exercise to strengthen the back muscles and core muscles like abdomen muscles. Try exercises which strengthen the glutes as these can also help fight backache.
Back pain in your 50’s and 60’s
When you hit 50, hormonal changes occur that lead to menopause. The lack of the hormone estrogen accelerates bone degeneration and loss of bone mass. This, in turn, increases the risk of osteoporosis and back pain. Also, the weakening of the back muscles with age increases pressure on the spine which can cause nerve impingement and narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) or bone fuse. As you age, the risk of other common conditions such as disc protrusion and the development of bone spurs is also high.
Hence, it is important to maintain your bone health to prevent back pain right from a young age. And there is no better way than diet and exercise to do it. Exercise can help to build muscle strength which helps the spine to carry your body weight. Also, eat a diet rich in nutrients and if you fail to get nutrients through diet then opt for food and health supplements to compensate for the loss of bone mass. If you have pain in the back, do not ignore but check with your doctor to get it treated.
Back pain can be a debilitating and life-changing condition. Most women prefer taking home remedies such as hot and cold compress to relieve the pain or pop a painkiller to fight pain. However, this not only provides temporary relief but also delays the right treatment. In most cases, the pain usually returns after a short while. Hence, if you have a backache that is recurrent in nature or if your back pain fails to show any improvement even after taking sufficient rest, it is wise to consult a spine specialist before it’s too late.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)