Understanding How Menopause Can Lead To Sciatic Nerve Pain

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Old woman with back pain

Menopause is uncomfortable enough as it is without adding back pain to the equation, but for many women the two conditions are somewhat intertwined. A recent study took a closer look at the connection between menopause and back pain, and while they found that the two conditions can be related, the study also provided us with a playbook for reducing your risk of having menopause increase your risk of back pain. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the connection between menopause and back pain, and how you can prevent sciatic nerve problems if you’re nearing menopause.

Low Back Pain And Menopause

A study published in the journal Menopause found that menopause could put a woman at a higher risk for back pain. During menopause, your body is making less estrogen than it used to, and estrogen is the leading enzyme responsible for activating Vitamin D. If you have lower estrogen levels, your body is naturally getting less Vitamin D than it used to, and Vitamin D is crucial in the development of strong bones.

If you’re suffering from Vitamin D deficiency, your spinal discs can suffer and degenerate at a faster rate. Your body will then try to compensate for their loss in disc height by attempting to produce more bone to help stabilize the spinal column. However, this new bone doesn’t always form perfectly, which means bony overgrowths can end up crowding important structures in the spinal canal. When this happens, you’re dealing with spinal stenosis.

One of the most common conditions associated with spinal stenosis is sciatic nerve pain. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, which means it can be impinged at a number of different places along the body. Bony growths in one area or degenerative disc disease in another both compress the sciatica nerve, leading to pain, numbness, muscle weakness and a host of assorted symptoms.

Preventing Back Pain During Menopause

It may seem like it takes a number of steps for back pain to develop out of menopause, but the key is that it all starts as a result of Vitamin D deficiency that can be exacerbated by menopause. To combat back pain if you’re nearing menopause, it’s imperative that you work to increase your Vitamin D intake.

Vitamin D is crucial to bone health, as its presence helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are vital in the bone production process. If the body isn’t getting enough calcium, it will actually pull it out of your bones and into your bloodstream. If you’re not regularly getting Vitamin D, your bones can become more brittle, putting you at an increased risk for spinal fractures and other bone breaks alongside sciatica.

Simply put, your primary care physician will likely talk to you about menopause and how it affects your body, but make sure you heed their advice when it comes to Vitamin D intake. Menopause and decreased estrogen will make it harder for your body to create Vitamin D from natural sources, so you have to be proactive about getting the vitamin from foods, supplements or from the sun. If you increase your Vitamin D intake, you’ll decrease your risk of spinal fractures and sciatica as you progress through menopause. For more information about addressing sciatic nerve pain or another back issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and his team today.

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