Menopause and Low Back Pain

Throughout menopause many hormonal changes occur in the body. This has many effects on the body including weight changes, hot flushes, fatigue, lower bone density, urinary incontinence or joint and muscle pains. Studies indicate the prevalence of Low Back Pain (LBP) is reported at higher rates in women especially with respect to postmenopausal women. These changes may be a contributing factor to or increase the risk of developing LBP. Low back pain has major lifestyle implications as it restricts participation in many enjoyable activities or events and can cause financial hardship with respect to loss of productivity at work.

It’s important to know that you are not alone as studies have reported a significant spike in LBP following the onset of menopause, however it is vital not to prolong doing something about it to avoid developing chronic issues. At Functional Health our team of physiotherapists and exercise physiologists prioritise your individual goals to regain pain free day to day function. Prescription of tailored exercise programs will ensure we strive towards optimal physical and mental well-being and continue to maintain independence throughout the ageing process.

An in depth look into why you might have low back pain

As we age the intervertebral discs that provide a cushion between each vertebrae become thin, worn and degenerative. These discs are a gel like substance that when healthy absorb the impact of our body throughout our daily activities. With the hormonal changes following menopause an accelerated process of disc degeneration occurs which results in a reduction in the weight bearing capacity of each disc. This additional stress is then transferred onto other structures within the spine. Over time this may consequently yield arthritic changes as our body’s reaction to the stress is to recruit and lay down more bone to compensate for the increase in load. This effects the smooth surfaces between each vertebrae and restricts the usually congruent movement of the spine. If these changes worsen the adjacent nerves can become restricted or compressed and consequently cause sciatic pain to radiate down the lower limbs.

Menopause also effects the structural make up and tensile strength of our muscles and ligaments. This contributes to the feeling of fatigue as we require a greater percentage of effort to perform our usual day to day activities. This also occurs at a smaller level, the muscles and ligaments are no longer able to sufficiently support your spine which make them susceptible to injury. In order to rebuild and preserve this required strength we need to introduce a safe and effective exercise program to advocate this. At Functional Health we have highly experienced physiotherapists and exercise physiologists that are equipped to design individualised exercise programs to help achieve your personal goals. We supervise all sessions and ensure adequate safety and progression when necessary to achieve the most beneficial outcomes.

Changes in Bone Mineral Density

One of the main roles estrogen plays in the female body is regulation of calcium deposits and bone density. Without the control from estrogen a steep decline in bone mineral density is seen in females which has ramifications for the development of osteoporosis. Studies indicate resistance exercise is a vital component of the preservation of bone density. The resistance loading provides the required stimulus and signal to increase calcium production and slows the bone reabsorption process. Other factors including weight gain, smoking, medications and dietary intake also contribute however our team will provide the required knowledge, support and guidance to manage these changes. This will help in the prevention of more serious conditions such as compression fractures or disc bulges.

Physiotherapy treatment techniques for LBP include exercises, manual therapy (hands on treatment), massage and progression onto MedX spinal machines with our exercise physiologist to regain you functional strength. Our MedX spinal machines place safety as a priority while optimizing strength increases through the patented system design.

A holistic view is taken here at Functional Health with all steps from assessment, treatment and prevention seen as key to our services. Prevention of further episodes and knowing what to do if reoccurrence should happen is vital to the patient having the best outcomes possible. Our education and advice on footwear and activities such as lifting, bending, sleeping and posture will help alleviate unwanted stress and avoid further injury to your lower back.