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Women and Low Back Pain: Is There a Hormonal Link?

Researchers have not been able to show a link between low back pain (LBP) in women and hormonal factors. Pregnancy, menstrual cycle, birth control pills, and menopause are just a few of these possible factors. Women also tend to report upper extremity pain (UEP) more often than men. Perhaps there's a hormonal link for arm pain, too.

To help answer these questions, data from a study of 11,428 women was analyzed. All women in the study were between 20 and 59 years old. Back pain and arm pain were assessed to see if there is some biologic reason for women to have these problems.

Data analysis showed the following findings:
  • Chronic back or arm pain was NOT linked to current pregnancy but was associated with having been pregnant in the past.
  • Young age at first birth (less than 20 years old) was associated with chronic LBP alone and back and arm pain at the same time.
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives at any time were both associated with chronic LBP and combined back and arm pain.
  • Young age (less than 11 years old) at the time of the girl's first period (menstrual cycle) was linked with chronic arm pain and back and arm pain together.
  • Irregular or long menstrual cycles were present in women with chronic LBP, chronic UEP, and both together.
  • Hysterectomy (uterus removed) was linked with chronic LBP, chronic UEP, and both together.

    The authors conclude that there is a connection between chronic pain and hormonal factors in women. The exact biologic cause and effect is still unknown. Some experts suggest that an increase in estrogen level is the key factor. More research is needed to unravel the link between hormones and reproduction as it relates to chronic pain.

    Hanneke A. H. Wijnhoven, PhD, et al. Hormonal and Reproductive Factors are Associated with Chronic Low Back Pain and Chronic Upper Extremity Pain in Women -- the MORGEN Study. In Spine. June 1, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 13. Pp. 1496-1502.


    *Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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