Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 26, 2017
As we get older, the structures in our spines start to wear down. Some of this is caused by repetitive stress over the years, but other times it can be caused in our body’s inability to produce hormones at similar rates as we did when we were younger.
That’s the case with the most recent study published in Menopause by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). According to research, there is a clear link between estrogen deficiency and disc degeneration in women. However, the good news is that now we understand the link, new treatment options are being developed.
Menopause and Disc Degeneration
For the study, researchers looked at lumbar disc health between more than 1,500 women and more than 1,350 men in the first known age-matched study of hormone analysis and spine health. Both groups had imaging results taken of their spinal disc height with the assistance of an MRI machine.
According to the results, young age-matched men were more susceptible to disc degeneration than premenopausal women, but postmenopausal women had a significant tendency to develop more severe spinal disc degeneration than age-matched men compared with premenopausal and perimenopausal women. Moreover, the most dramatic difference was seen in the first 15 years of menopause.
“This study shows that menopause is associated with more severe disc degeneration,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. “Prevention of disc degeneration of the lumbar spine may be another potential benefit for symptomatic menopausal women who may be candidates for hormone therapy.”
Hormone Therapy For Back Pain
The findings offer us some new potential solutions for disc degeneration in women. When menopause sets in, estrogen production slows, so it stands to reason that hormone therapy may play a key role in helping to combat wear and tear on the spinal discs.
We’ll certainly need to conduct more studies to ensure we get a better understanding of the link between estrogen production and healthy spinal discs, but it’s something for doctors and spinal specialists to consider. If an older female is presenting signs of disc degeneration, hormone therapy may be a helpful option when used in conjunction with other healthy habits like diet and exercise. If you believe your spine pain could be linked to reduced hormone production, talk to your spine specialist about your options.