Helpful Information

Four Types of Back Pain & Conditions That Typically Affect Women

woman with back pain

National Women’s Health Week was May 14-19. The week focused on why women should prioritize their health and personal wellness routine. This got us thinking about spine health and the conditions that typically plague women more than men. While some of these conditions can affect women at an early age, most women see these problems when they are post-menopausal (50+). Learn more about some of the common causes of back pain in women below.

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle is a large muscle located deep in the buttock. Sometimes, these muscles can spasm, causing pain in the hips, thighs and lower back. Piriformis syndrome can also irritate or compress the sciatic nerve. This condition primarily affects women due to hormone and pregnancy-related changes in the pelvis.

Spinal Osteoarthritis

Wear and tear of the joints that connect your vertebra (fact joints) is something that commonly occurs in women. This type of wear and tear can cause spinal osteoarthritis, a breakdown of fibrous cartilage in the facet joints. Cartilage provides cushioning between your vertebrae. When that breaks down, these bones can rub together causing pain in the upper or lower back, groin, buttocks and thighs. Pain typically begins in the morning but subsides throughout the day, with occasional flares of severe pain. 

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Sacroiliac (SI) joint connects the bottom of your spine to your pelvis. Pain in this area is called sacroiliac joint dysfunction aka sacroiliitis. Women typically have a smaller SI joint surface than men which can cause more stress across the joint. And, women have wider, more uneven and less curved sacrums. This can also cause problems with the sacroiliac joint. These factors can lead to joint dysfunction, especially in young women, and sciatica-like symptoms, including lower back pain, pain across the buttock and sharp pain in the knees.

Spinal Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis occurs because there is a higher rate of bone loss compared to new bone formation, making the bones more brittle and susceptible to fracture. Women who are post-menopausel are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men due to a variety of factors including estrogen deficiency and loss of bone at a younger age. Osteoporosis may cause compression fractures in the spine which result in acute back pain. This pain often remains localized to the  mid- or lower spinal region. 

If you’re experiencing any back pain or conditions above, we recommend scheduling a consultation with Dr. Petersen.


Dr. Bendt P. Petersen is an orthopaedic and neurospine surgical specialist with over twenty years in operative clinical practice. He is a fellowship-trained surgeon whose practice is the only one in the Mobile-area devoted exclusively to the treatment of your spine.

The Center for Spine Health employs the most advanced operative and nonoperative therapies in concert with the most highly-trained physical therapists and other advanced ancillary practitioners to help you live the life you want to live.

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