Physiotherapy for Back Pain Articles
Understanding and Alleviating Female Lower Back Pain

Understanding and Alleviating Female Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common issue that affects people of all genders, but it can be particularly troublesome for women. Female lower back pain can have various causes, ranging from menstrual-related conditions to pregnancy-related discomfort to other structural causes.

Low back pain affects a large segment of the adult population in Singapore, with rates reaching up to 80%. Understanding the possible causes and implementing effective pain management strategies can help women find relief and improve their overall quality of life.

In this article, we will explore the different factors that contribute to lower back pain in women and provide tips for managing and alleviating the discomfort.

Possible Causes of Lower Back Pain in Women

Pain tolerance can vary from person to person and is a complex and multifactorial phenomenon. One such factor affecting the perception of pain is sex, with women generally being more sensitive and at risk of clinical pain. There are also many possible causes of lower back pain in women, such are as follows:

Causes Related to the Female Reproductive Organs

Sharp pain in the lower back can be experienced by women in various situations, including during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions. Here are some possible causes of lower back pain related to some abnormalities in the female reproductive organs:


One of the most common causes of lower back pain in women is dysmenorrhoea, also known as menstrual cramps. During menstruation, the uterus contracts to shed its lining (or the endometrial tissue), which, in most instances, manifests as cramping and pain.

It can also cause lower abdominal pain or discomfort. This pain is often described as a cramping or aching sensation and can vary in intensity. It can also radiate to the lower back, causing more discomfort.

For some women, the pain may be mild and manageable, while for others, it can be severe and debilitating.

PMS and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is another condition that can contribute to lower back pain in women. PMS occurs in the days leading up to menstruation and can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms. Lower back pain is a common symptom experienced by many women during this time.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) that causes significant mood changes and disruptions in daily life. PMDD episodes can last for over two weeks and should be treated according to a healthcare provider's recommendations.

It's important to note that while PMS is a group of symptoms that occur before a period and affect about 90% of women, PMDD is a more severe condition that affects 3-8% of the population. Both conditions are believed to be caused by hormonal fluctuations, and genetics and stress may also play a role.


During pregnancy, a woman's body undergoes significant changes to accommodate the growing baby. These pregnancy-related changes can put a strain on the lower back, leading to discomfort and pain. As the uterus expands, it shifts the woman's centre of gravity, causing her to lean back and put pressure on the lower back. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also loosen the ligaments and joints, further contributing to lower back pain.


Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it, often affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic lining. This condition can cause intense pain, including chronic pelvic pain and lower back pain, during menstruation and at other times throughout the menstrual cycle.

While it may happen to anyone, very painful menstruation may indicate the possibility of having endometriosis, so it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for diagnosis and appropriate treatment options if you experience abnormally painful periods and chronic pain.


Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus. They can cause a variety of symptoms, including lower back pain. The size and location of the fibroids determine the severity of the pain experienced.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammatory condition that affects the upper reproductive organs in women. It's primarily caused by certain bacteria, with the most common culprits being Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis.

Common symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) include lower abdominal pain, fever, unusual vaginal discharge with a bad odour, pain or bleeding during sex, burning sensation when urinating, and irregular periods. Aside from these other symptoms, PID can also lead to lower back pain due to the inflammation and infection that occurs in the pelvic region, which radiates to the lower back.

Prompt medical attention is necessary to diagnose and treat PID to prevent further complications.

Other Causes of Back Pain in Women

Women may be more susceptible to conditions that cause lower back pain due to various factors related to their bodily anatomy. For example, hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause may contribute to the development of different conditions associated with lower back pain. Similarly, women tend to have a higher prevalence of certain risk factors, such as osteoporosis, which can weaken the bones and increase the risk of disc degeneration and vertebral slippage.

Poor Posture

Incorrect postures, like slouching, hunching, or lifting heavy objects incorrectly, can disperse loads on the spine and weaken the tissues in the lower back. This can result in muscle strain, reduced blood supply, and even herniation of spinal discs, leading to pain.

Spinal Osteoarthritis

Spinal osteoarthritis can cause lower back pain in women due to the degeneration of the cartilage in the joints of the spine. As the cartilage breaks down, it can lead to the loss of normal spinal structure and function. This can result in disc degeneration and the formation of bone spurs that can pinch nerves in the lower back.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc or bulging disc occurs when the soft cushion between the vertebrae in the spine slips out of place and presses against nearby nerves. This can cause lower back pain that may radiate down the legs. While herniated discs can occur in both men and women, certain factors, such as pregnancy and obesity, can increase the risk for women.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease can cause lower back pain in women due to the wear and tear of the spinal discs. As the discs degenerate, the bones in the spine may rub together, leading to pain and discomfort.

This condition is a normal part of ageing, and women may be more susceptible to it. Symptoms of degenerative disc disease include back pain that worsens with sitting and improves with movement, as well as numbness, tingling, and weakness in the limbs.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder where the piriformis muscle in the buttocks compresses the sciatic nerve, leading to inflammation and pain or numbness in the buttock and leg. It's estimated to cause about 0.3% to 6% of lower back pain cases.

Sacroiliac Joint Pain

SI joint pain can cause lower back pain in women due to the location and function of the sacroiliac joints. Located in the lower back where the spine and pelvis meet, inflammation or damage to these joints can lead to pain that radiates to the buttocks, thighs, groin, or upper back. This pain can be triggered by activities that put stress on the area, such as standing up, jogging, or walking with uneven strides.

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another vertebra, causing lower back pain. Women are more likely to develop this condition due to factors such as hormonal changes, pregnancy, and childbirth.

During spondylolisthesis, individuals may experience radiating pain that travels from the lower back down to the legs. This pain, also known as neuropathy, is one of the neurological symptoms experienced by an individual with this condition, which is caused by the pressure exerted on the nerves due to the slipping of vertebrae. The radiating pain can be felt in the hips as well.

Tips for Pain Management

Lower back pain in women may be managed through home remedies and other conservative methods. Here are some tips on how to manage the lower back pain you may be experiencing:

Self-Care Tips

When experiencing lower back pain, self-care practices can help alleviate the discomfort. Here are some self-care tips you may follow to help relieve lower back pain or other symptoms accompanying it:

Incorporate Lifestyle Modifications

Making lifestyle modifications can contribute to long-term pain management. Engaging in regular physical activity, such as low-impact exercises or yoga, can strengthen the muscles that support the lower back. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding smoking can promote overall wellness and reduce inflammation in the body.

Do Gentle Stretches

Gentle stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and relieve lower back pain. Incorporating stretches that target the lower back, such as the cat-camel stretch or knee-to-chest stretch, into a daily routine can provide relief. It is essential to perform stretches gently and avoid any movements that cause pain.

Take a Rest

When experiencing severe lower back pain, taking a break and allowing the body to rest can be beneficial. Resting in a comfortable position, such as lying on the back with a pillow under the knees, can help alleviate pressure on the lower back. It is important to avoid prolonged bed rest, as it can weaken the muscles and potentially worsen the pain.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

Relief from lower back pain can be achieved by using over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications can help to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort. However, remember to seek advice from a healthcare professional if the pain persists or becomes more severe.

Consider Physical Therapy Sessions

Physical therapy can be a valuable tool for managing and treating lower back pain. A physical therapist can assess the root cause of the pain and develop a personalized treatment plan that may include exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques to alleviate discomfort.

Seek Physiotherapy Sessions

Sessions for physiotherapy of the back can also be beneficial for women experiencing lower back pain. A qualified physiotherapist, especially one from Phoenix Rehab, can assess the condition, provide manual therapy, and recommend exercises and techniques to relieve pain and improve mobility.

When to See a Doctor

While many cases of lower back pain in women can be managed with self-care techniques, there are instances when it is essential to seek medical attention, especially in cases of chronic back pain. Persistent and severe pain are also warning signs, especially when accompanied by other worrisome symptoms such as numbness, weakness, or bowel or bladder dysfunction.

It's important to consult with a healthcare professional because they can provide a proper diagnosis, recommend appropriate treatment options, or refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Final Words

Female lower back pain can significantly impact a woman's daily life and overall well-being. Understanding the possible causes and implementing effective pain management strategies can help alleviate the discomfort and improve quality of life. Whether it is through self-care practices, lifestyle modifications, or seeking medical attention when necessary, finding relief through physiotherapy for lower back pain is possible.

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