Pain in the Back and Menstruation: Essential Information and Habits to Inculcate: For all those women who experience back aches in their upper back before or during their period, and question whether this is normal or not – we have the answer! There is no need to panic when experiencing such pain as there is no real normal and abnormality when it comes to menstruation or premenstrual symptoms. These symptoms vary from body to body and it is better to experience them fully, and recording them so as to have them correctly analysed by a doctor if need be.
Causes Of Upper Back Pain Before Period
Pain in the upper back can be caused due to a host of reasons. Only because period is something that occurs below the belt, do we expect all the aches and pains related to it to also originate at the same place.
It is important to note that the sharp drop in oestrogen after ovulation, and the subsequent increase in progesterone in the body in the luteal phase cause these bothersome symptoms to arise. Other hormones like Prostaglandins, a hormone which induces uterine contractions during and before the commencement of the menstrual cycle, are the reason for severe back pains and pain in the lower abdomen.
The following are probably causes of upper back pain before and during a menstrual cycle:
Premenstrual syndrome is the trigger point which tells a woman about the impending menstrual cycle. This is a term used for the various signs and symptoms which herald the beginning of a period. Pain in the back during PMS is not sporadic like the cramping experienced by a woman. It is constant and remains so in many cases until menopause. Sometimes this pain intensifies closer to menopause.
If your back pain is a premenstrual symptom, it will be accompanied by anxiety, food aversion or craving, mood swings, soreness in breasts etc. These symptoms subsist for a maximum of two weeks, starting on day 14 of the cycle. This is however a mean date derived if the length of cycle is 28 days.
A hormone known as relaxin sometimes causes for the ligaments in the back to relax and thereby takes away the natural support of the back, and results in pain. Fluid retention which bloats the body can also help in increasing stress on the back, and cause pain.
This is the condition where a person experiences extremely painful periods. This is of two types – primary and secondary. The primary dysmenorrhoea is when a normal period becomes too painful. Secondary dysmenorrhoea happens when this pain is caused by the existence of fibroids or other reproductive disorders.
Primary dysmenorrhoea is when the muscles of the uterus contract and squeeze. This is the body’s way of excreting the thickened uterine wall. These contractions often decrease the blood flow and increase the intensity of pain. Symptoms of this are:
- Pain in the abdomen and legs, which spreads to different parts
- Constant pain and ache
- Passing large clots in period
- Nausea and other digestive issues
- Tenderness in breasts
- Period pain lasting three days or more.
Causes of dysmenorrhoea are associated with overworking of the uterus and the existence of higher levels of prostaglandins than normal. This can only be checked by a doctor, and if pain and discomfort persists, a doctor should be consulted.
Patients are advised the following:
- Heat and cold application
- Bed rest and recuperation
- Pain killing medicines
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Regulating weight by exercising
- Oral contraceptives to regulate hormones
Contraction of the Womb
If pain in the upper back was to be divided between the pain felt before, after or during the period, contractions in the womb would be categorized as pain during the period. This is because the womb contracts and squeezes itself out until all traces of the uterine lining are shed. When the follicle phase of the body is over and the egg is ovulated, the thickened lining of the uterus awaits the fertilized egg. When the embedding of the egg does not take place, the uterine wall sheds itself and the egg destructs. This waste has to be thrown out of the body and is flushed away by the muscle contractions.
The pain that a woman experiences during this time is due to the underused muscles being excessively used. These contractions mirror those which are felt by women who are in labour. And the intensity is what causes the back and abdomen to also contract and pain.
Sometimes spasms can also be felt, but spasmic pain is not a direct symptom of an impending period.
The endometrium or the lining of the uterus which is supposed to grow inside the uterus, grows elsewhere. This could be anywhere outside the uterus including the surface of other organs or the outside of the uterus. In some extreme cases, the lining grows on the surface of the ovaries and the bladder as well. There is no scientific explaination of why some women suffer from this and others don’t. However, the bleeding during a period of the uterine wall also occurs like normal. The only major difference here is the irritation caused to the areas of the inside of the body which are not prepped for such functioning of the body. In some cases, this blood can go back into the fallopian tubes and thenbleed out into the abdomen. This condition is extremely painful and needs immediate help from a doctor. The pain is localized to the areas where this blood touches the surface of organs.
Endometritis pain occurs most commonly before or during a period, and not after. This pain can turn into dysmenorrhoea. It may persist in the duration between one period and the next. Women who suffer from this find it difficult to conceive and if they do conceive, the pregnancy is more likely to not be carried to term. It can also affect the body’s functions such as bowel movements and urinating. Excess bleeding can be caused between periods.
How To Reduce Back Pain During Period Naturally
Eliminating sugar intake and salty food can greatly help in reducing premenstrual symptoms as well as create an environment in the body for better metabolism. Substituting this for green vegetables and whole-grain foods, fruits and fresh produce can reduce water retention in the body and help in reducing pain felt when menstruating.
For non-vegetarians, substituting red meats with lean meats can work wonders immediately. The result of dietary changes is quick and is known to work. It is highly recommended that you consume farm fresh food in order to limit body weight.
Cut back on caffeine and alcohol.
Alcohol is a complex drink which requires effort on the part of the body to consume and breakdown. Ill effects of binging on alcohol and caffeine leave the body tired and more susceptible to infections. Abusing these can completely ruin one’s reproductive system and consuming small amounts in moderation is the healthiest alternative to quitting completely.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can be bought over the counter and help the body regain its necessary nutrients even if they are not available to it naturally. Calcium, iron etc. can be prescribed by a doctor as well.
Regular physical activity in the body helps in stretching the muscles out and leads to the body being more used to the contraction and expansion of muscles. This helps in reducing the pain felt in the back and abdomen greatly. The advised amount of exercise is 30 minutes every day, for three days a week (minimum).
Strenuous exercise will not help if done sporadically and not followed by a good diet. The aim is to create a long term change in the body so as to ward off infections and disorders which can occur if the body is allowed to hurt during its most vulnerable.
Exercise in the form of cardio, hiking and walking can help with fresh air intake and can alleviate PMS caused depression and uplift the spirits.
Yoga can help in relaxing all the various muscles in the back. It is advisable to treat yoga as a form of physical therapy and take it seriously. It must be learnt from a professional and done correctly to avoid any failure of muscle function. This type of exercise can help the body get used to stretching much like normal cardio.
It is important for one to learn when to retract from a situation which causes stress physically or mentally. Removing oneself from these situations may not always be possible, and so relaxation time must be taken out of the busy schedules. Women who meditate are known to have better chances of carrying a pregnancy to term if pregnant, and conceive easily, if trying to conceive. The aim is to be one with your body and realize what it needs rather than abusing it with allopathic medicine.
Warm showers and heat packs can be incorporated into one’s daily schedule.
Just like stretching your hamstrings for lower back pain relief, you can stretch your shoulders and arms for upper back pain relief.
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