As a woman approaches menopause, the becomes acutely aware of her changing body. She may affectionately refer to her hot flashes as her “personal summer,” and may begin to relish a warm cup of milk to stave off insomnia. While there are several well-known effects of menopause, most of which occur years before menstruation actually stops, there are some that are not recognized nor expected at all. Chronic back pain is one of them.
Scientists have been studying the effects of changing hormones for many years. A recent study conducted in China sought to identify if there may be a link between disc-related conditions such as spinal disc degeneration and menopause in women. After monitoring a group of women for several years, beginning during perimenopause and continuing after menopause, researchers concluded that the decline of estrogen a woman experiences does, indeed, make her more vulnerable to spinal disc conditions. This risk does not begin nor does it end at menopause; it begins years earlier and continues even after hormones settle into their new norm.
Nurturing the Aging Spine
It is not surprising that older individuals are more prone to back injuries and chronic back pain. Understanding that aging and changing hormones may increase these risks, good habits can be implemented to offset them. Factors that contribute to conditions such as disc degeneration and herniated discs can be managed with lifestyle choices including:
- Abstaining from smoking and tobacco use.
- Limiting or abstaining from alcohol consumption.
- Using good posture when sitting, standing, and exercising. Core strength is vital to a healthy, strong back.
- Staying flexible through activities such as Tai Chi and yoga or stretching.
- Consuming healthy foods that naturally fight inflammation.
- Engaging in lower impact exercise like swimming and walking.
Women’s Health Includes Proper Spine Care
Spinal health is not something that we tend to think about until we have to. If we begin to see how other major health matters such as menopause affect the mobility and function of the spine, we are better able to meet the changing needs of the body before they pose a problem.
Our Tampa Bay patients benefit from minimally-invasive care that has a proven record of success. If you would like to discuss chronic or acute back pain, call (813) 920-3022 for more information on our services.