The Question: I have my period and my back hurts. Why? Also, ow.
We're just going to say it: periods aren't fun.
It's understandable if you just want to crawl into bed and never come out during that time of the month. Especially when body aches -- particularly the lower back pain -- kick in.
And, really, what's the deal with that? Why is your back throbbing when your uterus is the one doing all the work?
Let's break it down.
First of all, nothing's wrong with you. Lower back pain during your period is totally common. It's caused by contractions in the uterus, which radiate through the web of nerves within your pelvic region. As your body contracts to rid itself of the uterine lining, it can sometimes press on blood vessels in the area, limiting or cutting off the supply of oxygen to the nearby muscles.
"Many women get back pain during their periods," Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told The Huffington Post. "This pain is from the uterus contracting to shed the lining which has built up since the last cycle... The phenomenon is described as 'referred pain.'"
"Referred pain" is pain felt in a part of the body other than its actual source. If you're just about to get your period, your uterus might be contracting in preparation for the upcoming activity. This is totally common and normal, and the pain can affect your thighs as well as your lower back.
That said, if your cramps are debilitating or have gotten increasingly worse over time, you may want to talk to a doctor. They could be a sign of endometriosis,
fibroids in the uterus, pelvic inflammatory disease, or an infection.
For simple cramps and back pain, most over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs will help do the trick, according to the Mayo Clinic. Look for ibuprofen because it's meant for inflammation, giving it a bit more of an edge for pain relief over acetaminophen. We'd also recommend a hot shower/bath, a heating pad, and resting up on a couch. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups also help, but maybe that's just us.
"Ask Healthy Living" is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical advice.