- The National Health Service spends more than £1 billion per year on back pain related costs. In the private healthcare sector £565 million is spent on back pain every year.
- The lowdown on back pain. Most people have lower back pain. This is because the lower back bears the weight of the upper body. It also twists and bends more than the upper back.
- If your back pain started after a trivial movement, such as picking up a book from the floor, you could have a slipped disc or a joint problem in your spine.
- Many people who often have back pain, either lead inactive sedentary lives, or have inherited a genetic susceptibility to back pain.
- Cyclists often experience back pain, which can often be rectified by adjusting the angle of the bicycle seat.
- 80% of people over the age of 30 experience back problems at some point in their lives. 30% of those will have recurring problems.
- Low back pain is the second most frequent reason for visits to the physician.
- Eighty seven percent of back problems are known to be muscular in origin — meaning they are related to how your move your body.
- Most acute back pain goes away on its own, whether or not you treat it with medication or other therapies.
- The spine is so strong that it can withstand the pressure of hundreds of kilograms.
There are some causes of lower back pain which are directed to women in particular. Lower back pain can be uncomfortable and worrying, but there are lots of potential causes – and many of them are issues that can be easily dealt with.
“If you’re in severe pain which interferes with daily life, please see a doctor as soon as possible – they’ll be able to identify why you have the pain and refer you for the right treatment,” says Dr Samantha Wild, women’s health lead at Bupa Health Clinics.
Dr.Wild also explained what lower back pain in women could potentially be a sign of…
Your lower back pain could just be down to your good old monthly visitor – so it’s worth checking your calendar to see where you are in your cycle. “Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, tends to affect women a few days before their period starts and continues until a couple of days after it starts,” says Dr Wild. “Many women tend to cite lower back pain as a symptom of PMS, as well as stomach cramps, fatigue and bloating.”
Endometriosis is a condition where the type of tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus. It tends to grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and other tissue surrounding the pelvis. Most say they get pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period. If you think you might be suffering from endometriosis, it’s best to make an appointment with your GP so they can investigate.
Back pain is often considered more a symptom of late pregnancy, low back pain can actually begin in the early stages of pregnancy. Women can experience some degree of back pain throughout pregnancy. Mood changes: Mood swings are relatively common during the first trimester of pregnancy due to changing hormone levels.
These are fluid-filled sacs that develop on an ovary, and the vast majority are benign. An ovarian cyst only tends to cause pain if it ruptures, or if it’s so large that it blocks blood supply to the ovaries. If this is the case, lower back pain tends to be a symptom, along with pelvic pain, irregular and heavy periods and the frequent need to urinate.. Your GP will be able to advise you on next steps if you’re worried you have an ovarian cyst.
If your lower back pain flares up after a vigorous workout, or you first noticed it after an injury, you might have strained a muscle. Muscle strain is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. It often occurs due to repeated heavy lifting, bending or twisting awkwardly, a sudden awkward movement or over-stretching the muscle. Symptoms to expect from a pulled lower back muscle—or any type of lower back strain—typically include: Dull, achy low back pain. Strained muscles usually feel sore, tight, or achy. Pain that feels hot, tingling, or electric is more likely caused by an irritated nerve root, not a pulled muscle. Many strains can heal by themselves, but if it’s taking a long time, head to your GP, who may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.
6. Kidney infections
Symptoms of a kidney infection often come on within a few hours. You can feel feverish, shivery, sick and have a pain in your back or side. In addition to feeling unwell like this, you may also have symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) such as cystitis. A common symptom of kidney infections is pain in the lower back. If this happens, speak to your GP, who will be able to run tests and treat you.
7. Bone issues
Conditions that can cause back pain include:
- a slipped (prolapsed) disc (a disc of cartilage in the spine pressing on a nerve) – this can cause back pain and numbness, tingling and weakness in other parts of the body
- sciatica (irritation of the nerve that runs from the lower back to the feet) – this can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet
- ankylosing spondylitis (swelling of the joints in the spine) – this causes pain and stiffness that’s usually worse in the morning and improves with movement
- spondylolisthesis (a bone in the spine slipping out of position) – this can cause lower back pain and stiffness, as well as numbness and a tingling sensation
These conditions are treated differently to non-specific back pain.
Very rarely, back pain can be a sign of a serious problem such as:
- a broken bone in the spine
- an infection
- cauda equina syndrome (where the nerves in the lower back become severely compressed)
- some types of cancer, such as multiple myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer)
If you see a GP with back pain, they’ll look for signs of these.