Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Back pain is common among both sexes, but women face some unique challenges when it comes to their spine health. Women have some major anatomical, hormonal and lifestyle differences compared to men that put them at a heightened risk for certain spinal ailments. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the unique challenges women face when it comes to their spine health.
Back Problems Facing Women
Spine challenges are not unique to women, but certain factors make women more likely to run into some common back problems. Here’s why:
- Anatomical Challenges – For starters, a woman’s spine is slightly anatomically different from a man’s. Although bone densities do not differ between men and women, a woman’s vertebral bodies tend to be about 25% smaller than a man’s. This means that the amount of mechanical stress within a vertebral body can be as much as 40% greater in women than men when exposed to the same load. Additionally, women tend to have a naturally wider pelvic structure compared to men, which impacts how stress is distributed in the lumbar spine region, potentially increasing their risk of different lower back issues.
- Hormonal Challenges – Men and women experience different levels of hormone production throughout their life. For women, fluctuations in estrogen production can end up affecting ligament laxity. If soft tissues become too lax and can no longer adequately support the spinal column, pain and disc issues can develop. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also contribute to ligament laxity, destabilizing the spinal column, although hormone production tends to balance out after childbirth, which in turn helps to tighten these loose ligaments. Hormonal changes can also increase a woman’s likelihood of developing osteoporosis and some bone density-related problems. Hormonal changes during menopause can speed up the loss in bone density, putting you at a greater risk for spinal fractures.
- Pregnancy And Childbirth – Of course the physical nature of pregnancy and childbirth can have a significant impact on your spine. Your developing baby will naturally change your posture as you adapt to your growing belly, and that can lead to discomfort as your pregnancy progresses. Of course, the childbirth process can also be traumatic on the base of your spinal column and pelvic region, but physical therapy can help you overcome some of the challenges brought on by childbirth.
These are just a few of the ways that women may find themselves at an increased risk for spinal issues compared to men. We have helped countless women find the right treatment for the spinal issues they are facing, and we’d be happy to do the same for you. For more information about women’s spine health, or to talk to a provider about a different back issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.