While lower back pain is well-documented in both men and women of various ages, studies have shown that lower back pain is both more frequent and more severe in pre-, peri-, and post-menopausal women.
Given that life expectancy has risen to the point where women now spend a third of their life in some phase of the menopause process, the prevention and treatment of chronic lower back pain should be an essential component of any woman’s self-care routine. Back pain chiropractors are an excellent resource to help you address lower back pain during menopause.
The menopause process involves, among other things, the slowing production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in a woman’s body and can be spread out over many years. The onset of pre-and peri-menopause typically occurs in a woman’s 40s (but can start in her 30s). Physical and psychological symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, chronic fatigue, irritability, mood swings, depression, insomnia, and joint and spine pain.
Lower Back Pain – How Menopause Contributes
Menopause can cause increased lower back pain in a number of ways.
- You may notice that it is a little easier to put on some extra body weight, particularly around your middle, and harder to shed it. Weight gain during menopause increases pressure on the lower back and has been correlated with increased severity of back pain.
- Stress and anxiety, common psychological symptoms of menopause, increase muscle tension throughout the body, including the lower back.
- Decreased estrogen has been associated with increased disc degeneration in the lumbar region of the spine, which contributes to lower back pain.
- Decreased estrogen is also associated with elevated cortisol levels. Both blood pressure and blood sugar rise with cortisol, which contributes to muscle tension and spasms throughout the body, weakness, and fatigue.
- Decreased testosterone, also produced by the ovaries, makes it more difficult for menopausal women to build and maintain muscle strength and tone. Weaker back and abdominal muscles contribute to lower back pain.
Like lower back pain caused by injury or overuse, at-home treatment for menopausal back pain can include warm baths, gentle yoga, and stretching exercises, and any other relaxation and stress reduction techniques that work for you. You may also want to consider dietary changes to help offset any blood sugar increases caused by elevated cortisol.
Talk to your doctor about hormone therapy, too. While some doctors shy away from estrogen and progesterone therapies due to increased risks of breast cancer, advances are being made in androgen (testosterone) therapy for women with promising results.
Exercises that improve balance and strengthen the pelvic floor, abdominal and back muscles can be of great help in preventing and reducing menopausal back pain.
In addition to the relief that toning exercises can provide, Chiropractic spinal manipulation and mobilization, as well as massage, are effective treatments of acute and chronic lower back pain.
If you are experiencing lower back pain as a symptom of menopause, don’t dismiss chiropractic care and massage as luxuries – they can be critical components of your health care and help you live your best life.
Menopause is a legitimate health care issue, but it doesn’t have to be so bad. Michigan Chiropractic Specialists, back pain chiropractors in West Bloomfield, MI, can help you formulate a personalized self-care plan to ensure menopause isn’t synonymous with misery for the next 10+ years of your life.