Women have to deal with a lot of changes in their bodies as they age and one of the things that they never really get easy is experiencing period pain. Along with regular bleeding, monthly menstruation can also cause painful cramps, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Some women also report having pain in the lower abdomen and upper back area.
So should you worry about upper back pain during periods? Not at all. Although having upper back pain during periods isn’t a universal experience for all women, it’s still one of the possible symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or dysmenorrhea. It’s a normal condition brought on by the prostaglandins which signal the uterus to contract and cause painful periods with occasional upper backaches.
Menstruation is something that all women have to go through before they reach their menopause years. It usually begins around the age of 12 to 15 years old which indicates that a girl is close to the end of her puberty and is also a sign of the development of her sexual and reproductive characteristics.
On average, a girl’s first period may come with some noticeable symptoms like muscle cramping, bloating, acne breakouts, mood swings, and breast tenderness. Their bleeding may also last for only a few days as it takes the body some time to adjust to a regular menstrual cycle. Once they’ve developed a pattern, they can expect monthly periods that can last up to a week. It’s also when they can start experiencing dysmenorrhea symptoms like upper back pain.
Dysmenorrhea is a medical term used to describe painful periods or menstrual cramps. Some discomfort during menstruation is normal, but dysmenorrhea is already acknowledged as a disorder that can be caused by different factors. It’s more common in women who have irregular period cycles or underlying medical conditions that affect their reproductive organs.
When a woman goes through her menstrual cycle, the hormones in the body undergo several changes. The levels of estrogen and progesterone normally fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle which causes uncomfortable symptoms.
There’s also another hormone-like substance that’s involved during the menstruation cycle called prostaglandins. They’re actually a group of lipids that are responsible for several bodily processes, including ovulation and menstruation.
During the first day of a menstrual cycle, the prostaglandins help shed the uterine lining from the uterus which causes a period. It’s also the primary culprit for the contractions of the uterine muscles which leads to cramps and sharp pain in the pelvis, abdomen, and back. Throughout the cycle, the level of prostaglandins may also increase and lead to severe lower or upper back pain.
In a study that assessed the prevalence of dysmenorrhea in female college students, the researchers reported that only about 16% of the subjects felt pain in their lower back along with their menstruation. Other commonly identified locations of pain with dysmenorrhea were the lower abdomen and thighs.
It can also be noted from the study that lower or upper back pain during periods will only last for several days. At least 37% of the participants reported having dysmenorrhea symptoms only for 1 day, followed by 39.2% and 15.4% of subjects who experienced pain for 2 to 3 days respectively. Some women also notice their pain lasting until the end of their menstrual cycle.
In most cases, upper back pain with periods is caused by primary dysmenorrhea which is triggered by the activity of prostaglandins during a cycle. However, there are also instances when you notice unusual muscle pain and severe cramps with your period in your middle years. This is called secondary dysmenorrhea and it usually occurs with the onset of an underlying disorder affecting your reproductive system.
Here are some of the possible conditions that can cause painful periods and upper back pain:
This happens when endometrial tissue that’s supposed to grow inside the uterus forms outside. It can also sometimes grow around other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvis. The common symptoms of endometriosis are dysmenorrhea, heavy bleeding, painful urination and bowel movements, and constipation. Some women may also have urinary tract infection if they have endometrial tissue growth in their bladder.
This is a condition when the endometrial tissues grow into the muscle of the uterine walls. During a menstrual cycle, the tissue thickens and breaks down normally which causes heavy blood flow, painful cramps, and pelvic pain. In some cases, the uterus may also get bigger and cause tenderness in the lower abdomen.
These are growths formed by the muscle and connective tissue of the uterine walls. Fortunately, uterine fibroids are noncancerous and are a common occurrence among adult women. It almost never shows any symptoms but some patients may experience heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, lower or upper back pain, and leg cramps or aches.
It’s another type of growth made up of fluid-filled sacs that can develop on or inside the ovaries. Like fibroids, they’re usually harmless and rarely cause symptoms or severe complications. However, the presence of larger cysts may cause painful periods, bloating in the lower abdomen, and chronic pelvic pain.
This condition refers to an infection of one of the organs of the female reproductive system. It’s usually caused by a sexually transmitted disease that spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. The symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease are normally mild and can include unusual or smelly vaginal discharge, bleeding, difficulty urinating, abdominal pain, and lower or upper back pain.
This refers to the inflammation of the joints and ligaments of the spine. When it affects the thoracic spine, it can cause stiffness, limited chest expansion, and upper back and shoulder pain. Women with ankylosing spondylitis may also experience more severe symptoms during periods since the hormones may cause flare-ups of inflammation.
Yes, some women anticipate having upper and low back pain at least a week before their periods. However, it doesn’t happen often and it’s usually more prevalent during your menstruation. Some of the more common dysmenorrhea symptoms that can happen before your cycle are bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, mood swings, and irritability.
There are several possible reasons for having chest pain and upper back pain at the same time. However, when it occurs before or during your period, it may be a symptom of thoracic endometriosis. It’s a rare condition that occurs when endometrial tissue grows in or around the lung.
It may be accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, referred neck pain, and pain under the rib cage. This should be checked immediately by your doctor to get proper medical advice and treatment.
Lower and upper back pain during periods aren’t uncommon and they’re easily manageable with several home remedies. Here are some of the ways you can reduce upper and lower back pain during menstrual cycles:
If your upper or lower back pain is caused by secondary dysmenorrhea, you may need to get certain procedures to address the disorders in your uterus or ovaries. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing other unusual symptoms with your back pain so you can get an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.
Upper back pain has many possible causes from poor posture, injuries, and hormone changes before and during menstruation. Experiencing backaches with periods isn’t usually a cause of concern but it can be debilitating and affect your quality of life for the duration of your menstrual cycle.
At Gramercy Pain Center, our team of board-certified physicians and highly trained staff can help provide relief from your upper back pain during periods. We offer a wide range of interventional pain management solutions so you can have a comfortable menstruation experience. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or fill out the form on our website.