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Back Pain Center

What Causes Back Pain Before a Period?

author image April Khan
April Khan is a medical journalist who began writing in 2005. She has contributed to publications such as "BBC Focus." In 2012, Khan received her Doctor of Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She also holds an Associate of Arts from the Art Institute of Dallas and a Master of Science in international health from University College London.
What Causes Back Pain Before a Period?
Back pain before menstruation may be part of PMS. Photo Credit Tom Le Goff/Photodisc/Getty Images

To some degree most women will experience back pain on or around the time of the menstrual cycle. This pain can be related to several factors such as stress, pregnancy, miscarriage or even many hormone disorders. However, there are other explanations for back pain that is experienced before a period.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome---PMS--- is a set of symptoms that occur before a woman's menstrual cycle begins. This set of symptoms is experience by at least 75 percent of women according to MayoClinic.com. Although the level and severity of the symptoms differ per woman, they usually peak around her 30s.

Symptoms of PMS are tension or anxiety, depression, crying spells, mood swings, insomnia, poor concentration, headache, fatigue, weight gain, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness and cramping in the abdomen or lower back. The causes of PMS are unknown, however depression, stress, poor eating habits and chemical changes in the brain may all play a part in the condition.

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Painful Period

Some women experience painful periods without cause and is just a part of their monthly cycle. This type of pain affects many women and is the leading cause of women taking time off work or girls staying home from school in their teens and early to late 20s. It is normal for this pain to be experienced mildly; however, severe or persistent pain is abnormal.

Excessive or persistently painful periods are called dysmenorrhea, of which there are two types: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs when the period first begins and secondary dysmenorrhea occurs after the period has been normal. Secondary dysmenorrhea is often linked to fibroids, endometriosis, PMS, STDs or stress and anxiety.


Endometriosis is a reproductive disease that causes endometrial tissue to grow outside of the uterus. This occurs when endometrial cells make their way into the body and attach to other areas, such as the bladder, uterus, ovaries, bowels or abdomen, and form tissue there. Researchers aren't sure exactly why this happens, but they speculate that during the menstrual cycle, blood containing endometrial cells may back up into the fallopian tubes, which then spills into the body.

During a woman's menstrual cycle, this tissue swells and bleeds as it does within the uterus. The bleeding of the endometrial tissue outside of the uterus may cause the tissue around it to get irritated, which causes inflammation and pain. Symptoms of endometriosis are painful periods, pelvic or lower back pain, pain during or following sexual intercourse, pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic cramping.

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