Menstruation Or A Related Condition Can Be A Source Of Back Pain
Menstruation can bring about many uncomfortable symptoms, including backaches. While some cramping and back pain right before and during menstruation may be normal for you, pain that worsens or persists is not. Since the cause of menstrual pain isn't the same for every woman, it's important to know what conditions can cause the pain and the options available to treat it.
Some women suffer dysmenorrhea – a condition that causes muscle cramping and pain in the abdomen, lower back, and upper thighs. The pain recurs monthly during a woman's menstrual cycle. While the symptoms can range from mild to severe, the pain often is worse when your period first begins.
Prostaglandin hormones that cause uterine contractions can cause the muscles in your back to hurt. If your body produces too many of these lipids, you may suffer more severe cramping and pain from your period, as high levels of the hormone can cause inflammation. Although pain usually starts in the lower back, it can spread higher into the back.
Endometriosis is the result of endometrial cells growing outside the uterus. The condition generally affects the ovaries or other tissue within the pelvic area. While abdominal pain is a key symptom of endometriosis, pain can extend into your lower back.
Pain from this condition often starts a few days before your period begins. Although the symptoms of endometriosis can worsen as you get older, the level of pain you suffer doesn't necessarily indicate the seriousness of the condition. Your case may be mild despite severe pain while a woman with little pain may have advanced endometriosis.
In some cases, the abdominal and back pain associated with endometriosis can become so severe that your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy to remove the uterus. But hysterectomy generally is an option doctors suggest for only the severest cases, especially if you want to try to become pregnant.
Whether or not you have endometriosis, you should seek medical attention immediately if you have bleeding, fever, or fainting in addition to sudden, severe pain.
If back pain is part of your monthly cycle and not due to an underlying medical problem, anti-inflammatory medications or hormone therapy may help. Some women find pain relief with over-the-counter medications that help to reduce inflammation. Hormonal birth control that reduces menstrual flow and blocks the effects of prostaglandins is another option to alleviate pain related to menstruation.
Alternative therapies such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and acupressure are other options to help reduce back pain during your menstrual cycle. For mild pain, applying a heating pad to your back may provide adequate relief.
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help ease back pain related to your period. Although you should exercise on most days for maximum benefits to your overall health, for menstrual pain relief, it's particularly important to exercise a day or two before your period is due to start.
In some cases, you may need surgery to remove small fibroid tumors that may be contributing to your back pain. Your doctor also may recommend dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove uterine polyps.
Laparoscopy is another surgical option your doctor may discuss if the source of your pain is endometriosis or ovarian cysts. If endometriosis is mild, but your pain is severe, a surgeon can remove scar tissue, cysts, and small benign growths by making small incisions in your abdomen through which a laparoscope and other surgical instruments are inserted.
Endometrial ablation is a surgical procedure your doctor may recommend depending on the underlying condition causing your symptoms. Ablation, which destroys the uterine lining, can help stop heavy menstrual bleeding when less-invasive treatment has failed.
What Your Doctor Needs to Know
Let a gynecologist (such as one from Women's Healthcare of Illinois) know of any pelvic and back pain that accompanies your menstrual period, as you may have an underlying medical condition causing the symptoms. Your doctor will need to know when during your monthly cycle the pain occurs, how bad it gets, and for how long it lasts. Point to the areas of your back and belly that hurt.