Back pain caused by your period may range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain that interferes with your daily activities. Back pain associated with your period can start a few days before and get better after your period is over. This type of back pain is typically muscular and caused by hormonal changes. Let’s discuss how to manage lower back pain before, during, and after your period.
Lower back pain associated with your period is usually muscular and caused by hormonal changes. Prostaglandins play a main role. Prostaglandins are chemicals that cause many of the symptoms associated with menstrual discomfort. They are synthesized by many tissues in the body, including the endometrium (the tissue that lines the uterus). They stimulate contraction of the uterine muscles to shed the uterine lining during menstruation. Prostaglandins also cause cramps. Heavy contractions can lead to low-back pain, as the pain can radiate from the lower abdomen into the lower back.
People with high prostaglandin levels may experience severe menstrual cramps and also severe back pain during their period. Prostaglandins can also cause symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, and diarrhea that accompany painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea).
Lower back pain can also be a symptom of early pregnancy. During pregnancy, the ligaments in your body naturally become softer and stretch to prepare you for labor. This can put a strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which can cause back pain.
Here are some of the differences between back pain from your period and back pain from pregnancy. Period pain may start a few days before your period and subsides after your period is over. Low-back pain from early pregnancy may occur around the fourth week. You may continue having back pain for weeks or months while you are pregnant. If you’re pregnant, you may have other symptoms such as light vaginal spotting or bleeding, nausea, and breast tenderness. If you’re pregnant and are experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding, visit your doctor immediately. It is especially important to notice these signs and symptoms if you have a history of early miscarriage.
You may also get cramps and back pain from an ectopic pregnancy. In this condition, a fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere other than inside the uterus; for instance, the fallopian tubes. The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may be abdominal cramps, lower back pain, abnormal bleeding, nausea, and shoulder pain. Some people may also have signs that are typical of an early pregnancy such as sore breasts and nausea.
Lower back pain a week before your period may be a part of PMS. PMS is a combination of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms that occur before your period. Premenstrual symptoms can start around the 14th day of your menstrual cycle and last until 7 days after your period has started. Lifestyle changes may help prevent the symptoms. If your symptoms are severe or unmanageable, talk to your doctor.
Cramping and lower back pain may occur after your period for a few different reasons:
Ovulation — You may feel lower back pain and cramping after your period during ovulation, when your ovary releases an egg. Ovulation happens around the middle of your menstrual cycle. Ovulation pain may occur suddenly. It may last for a short time or for up to two days. It will usually get better on its own.
Endometriosis — In this condition, endometrial tissue grows outside its usual location (the uterus). In endometriosis, endometrial tissue may grow on the uterine wall, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or tissue lining the pelvis. Endometriosis can cause lower back pain before and after your period. In addition to cramping and lower back pain, other symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Pain after and during sex
- Pain during urination
- Pain during bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding between or during periods
If you have endometriosis, your doctor may be able to treat it with medications or surgery.
Uterine fibroids — These are noncancerous growths that form in the uterine wall. They may cause lower back pain and other symptoms such as:
- Prolonged or heavy periods
- Difficult or frequent urination
- Irregular bleeding
- Abdominal cramping
- Leg pain
Your doctor may be able to treat uterine fibroids with medication or different types of surgery.
Cervical stenosis — In this condition, the cervical opening is very small and blocks the normal flow of menstrual blood. This can lead to increased pressure in the uterus that can cause menstrual cramps. Your doctor may be able to treat cervical stenosis by dilating the cervix.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) — PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs and is usually caused by bacteria. Apart from lower back pain after your period, other symptoms include:
- Pain in the low abdomen
- Abnormal or heavy vaginal discharge
- Bleeding or pain during sex
- Fever with chills
- Difficult or painful urination
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Bowel discomfort
Treatment for PID usually consists of antibiotics and temporary abstinence from sex.
You can try the following to manage severe lower back pain during your period:
- Painkillers — A few days before your period, try taking over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatories. If your pain doesn’t get better with over-the-counter painkillers, your doctor may prescribe stronger ones.
You can also try some of these methods to ease abdominal cramps, which commonly affect lower back pain:
- Heat — Applying a hot water bottle or heating pad on your lower back may help reduce back pain during your period.
- Warm shower or bath — Taking a warm shower or bath may help you relax and relieve back pain during your period.
- Massage — Gently massaging your abdomen and lower back may also relieve back pain.
- Exercise — Regular physical activity may help with the pain during your period. Although you may be tempted to avoid exercising during your period, physical activity can help reduce lower back pain. Try gentle exercises such as walking, cycling, and swimming. You can talk to your doctor to determine what physical activity is best for you.
- Relaxation techniques — Relaxation activities such as meditation may help distract you from feelings of discomfort and pain.
Some lifestyle changes may also affect pain during your period.
- Maintain a healthy diet and take nutritional supplements with vitamin B and magnesium.
- Drink lots of water.
- Avoid foods containing salt and caffeine.
- Avoid smoking.
- Avoid alcohol.
If you can’t deal with the pain or have some additional symptoms, seek help from your doctor.