Back pain affects both men and women. These back pain issues can be caused by muscle strains, disc compression or herniation, etc. Is it possible that gender can play a role in your spinal health? Despite the spine being the same regardless of gender, spinal health can vary significantly between genders in many different ways.
How Gender Affects Spinal Health
Susceptibility to back pain differs between genders in regards to which injuries are most common and how the body is able to respond to and heal from them. Some of these differences can be linked to varying hormone levels, difference in hip and pelvic structure, and the effect of 9 months pregnancy has on the spine.
Not only are certain conditions more commonly seen in different genders, the proper treatments for them can vary as well. Back pain is commonly treated with medication, but different prescriptions affect men and women differently. For example, using aspirin to treat back pain in men can result in a decreased risk of a heart attack. In women, this is not the case, aspirin can actually increase the risk of a stroke. Chiropractors are another common form of relief, and these professionals can cater their style and adjustments based on the differing anatomy.
How the Root of Back Pain Can Differ in Men and Women
Pain arises from different activities or for different reasons depending on gender. Men are injured from heavy weight lifting more often than women. Issues from weight lifting are often disc herniation or disc compression. Young men are more prone to spinal cord injuries, often a result of the higher prevalence of contact sports.
Pain from spinal osteoarthritis differs in men and women. The cartilage in the spine breaking down; causing vertebrae to rub together is more commonly seen in men up to the age of 45, but is much more commonly seen in women after the age of 60.
Osteoporosis is more common in women, which can result in an increased risk of fractures, spinal compression, and spinal damage. Women generally have wider hips than men, which increases the risk of coccydynia, or tailbone pain. This pain is five times more likely to occur in women than men.
Why Women are More Susceptible to Back Pain
In general, chronic pain caused by back injuries is much more commonly seen in women than men. For injuries such as spondylolisthesis, where the vertebrae in the lower spine slide over one another, women are more prone due to their wider hips and lower overall bone density.
In the case of coccydynia, women are more prone to this pain due to the fact that their tailbones are often less protected. This can become worse with childbirth if the baby's head presses on and injures the tailbone, as the tailbone is not designed to bend.
Pregnancy and menopause are also major contributors to the higher prevalence of back pain. Both of these times result in hormonal changes, an increase in bodyweight, added stress, and changed posture. All of these can contribute to excess spinal pressure and result in an increased likelihood of spinal injuries or pain.
Gender's Effect on the Spine
Although the spinal composition in men and women are nearly identical, there are a number of other factors that significantly identify the differences between back pain in men and women. These factors include pelvic differences, hormonal changes, bone composition, and more, all of which can result in women being more susceptible to back pain than men.