7 Back Conditions that Disproportionately Affect Women

Back pain affects more than 80 percent of individuals at one time or another, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. Many risk factors make you more susceptible to back pain, including gender. These seven spine conditions are much more common among women than men.


Coccydynia, or tailbone pain, impacts women five times more often than men. This condition can arise gradually or occur suddenly after an injury to the area. It can also be caused by pregnancy. With coccydynia, sitting and other actions that put pressure on the tailbone are painful. This condition most often affects those older than age 40. While it can resolve on its own, it sometimes becomes chronic.

Compression Fractures

Osteoporosis, characterized by decreased bone density and increased risk for fractures, can cause painful compression fractures in the spine. If you are diagnosed with or at risk for osteoporosis and experience sudden severe back pain, a compression fracture could be the culprit. Eighty percent of people who have osteoporosis are women.

Slipped Disc

This condition, also known as degenerative spondylolisthesis, occurs when one of the vertebrae in the lower back overlaps with another, causing aching pain and weakness that can extend into the legs. Women develop this condition at three times the rate of men, due to pelvic differences and an increased risk for slipped discs with osteoporosis.


Between 80 and 90 percent of fibromyalgia cases affect women between ages 45 and 70. This condition causes rheumatic pain throughout the body and can affect the muscles of the back.

Piriformis Syndrome

Affecting more women than men at a rate of six to one, this condition affects the muscle that stabilizes the hip joint. With piriformis syndrome, the muscle spasms and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain, numbness, and tingling in the buttocks and lower back.

Spinal Osteoarthritis

While osteoarthritis affects more men before age 45, after age 45 this condition is more common among women. When it impacts the spine, the cartilage separating the vertebrae break down, causing pain and discomfort when the bones rub against one another.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

This condition occurs more often in younger women and is sometimes associated with pregnancy. The joint that absorbs shock between the pelvis and upper body does not work correctly, causing similar pain and tingling as you may experience with sciatica.

Most people who have back pain go untreated, but medical care is available for these and other conditions that cause discomfort in the spine. Visiting a spinal specialist is the first step to getting a diagnosis and achieving relief. Marc Cohen and the spine experts at the Marc Cohen Spine Institute have experience helping the people of the New Jersey area alleviate back pain through patient-specific methods. Contact us at one of our many locations to schedule your appointment today.