My robot half
September 1, 2010 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible that my uterus is causing my back pain?

I just got back from an interesting 1st session with an osteopath / physical therapist. I went to see them with serious back pain that I thought was a rebound of my 2006 herniated disc. I've been moving like a robot for about 5 days now. After a good 45 minute physical consultation osteo suggests that my back pain is not related to my old herniation but stems from a right pelvis that is sheared up and out of alignment. Okay, doc pulls on my leg, I cough, this is fixed. Woah! I can walk! I can sit! I feel tender but much better. This is nothing short of amazing to me. Told to rest and recover for the following week.

Here's where I'm confused. She then assesses that my uterus is tilted to the right and is the remaining cause of my back pain. I've read this thread by the way. Is it possible for a uterus to push on your sacrum to cause back pain? I've been looking at anatomical female pelvis diagrams and I don't quite see how that can be. Can anyone explain this to me?
posted by gillianr to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is not medical advice--only anecdote. But an ex-girlfriend of my had bad lower back pain that was ultimately traced to a severe case of (benign, thankfully) uterine fibroids--the biggest was something like the size of a grapefruit (this is all second hand from her, so forgive any medical inaccuracies). This is no insinuation of what my be causing your back pain, just a data point with respect to someone whose back pain was supposedly uterine-related.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:04 PM on September 1, 2010

(Not a doctor, or a female, but anyway).

It could be referred pain?
posted by antiquark at 6:25 PM on September 1, 2010

No one's ever told me anything about my uterus being tilted or anything (and it's been looked at during three c-sections) but I had the exact same experience as you. I had a severe back/hip ache when I was 21. Couldn't walk, hurt to sit or lie down. The ortho surgeon said he had no idea what it was after bone scan, CAT scan, pelvic exam, and I don't remember what else. He said it was NOT my SI joint, the pain was in the wrong place. He finally sent me to a physical therapist who said, "So...he said it's not the SI joint??" She pulled on my leg a bit and stretched it and I could walk right then. (Not well - after a month of not moving, that leg was really weak and it took a while. But it stopped hurting right then.)
posted by artychoke at 6:36 PM on September 1, 2010

Yep, I've had severe cramps that radiate all the way through to my back, and they're in the place where I have the most back problems in general. The last time I got a massage (from a professional who also works on pro football players), she said that I seem to carry all of my stress in that one place in my body, and it certainly seems to be the case. I think my uterus is also a little tilted, or so my ob/gyn said last time.
posted by Madamina at 6:42 PM on September 1, 2010

I had ginormous ovarian cysts that manifested as severe sharp back pain. As I understand it, what was happening was that the ovary was being twisted so the bloodflow got (at least partly) blocked and this showed up as bad back pain.

This was sharp pain that couldn't be traced to a single muscle, and I never quite remembered what I did that wrenched my back. It ended up being weirdly positional, too, where I could sleep laying on my back with a pillow under my knees, and have no problem.

I was seeing a chiropractor for part of this time, and the chiropractic stuff helped a lot with getting things into alignment, but the real underlying cause was ... not chiropractic.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:18 PM on September 1, 2010

"Is it possible for a uterus to push on your sacrum to cause back pain? I've been looking at anatomical female pelvis diagrams and I don't quite see how that can be. Can anyone explain this to me? "

The uterus can be retroverted -- tipped towards the back. That's not typically shown on "normal" diagrams of female anatomy.

I feel almost all my uterine cramping as back pain, always have. (Which I realize isn't what you're saying here, but just in case that anecdata helps at all; and my uterus is retroverted.) It's excruciating and it FEELS like it's smack in my lower spine, but it's just menstrual cramping. All those muscles and ligaments are all really interconnected (as I learned while pregnant and things HERE hurt things way over THERE) ... i think pain can appear in odd places if those muscles and ligaments get pulled.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:21 PM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Another tangential data point- a friend was just diagnosed with endometriosis so extensive that it was removed from parts of her lower back, and it was definitely giving her back pain.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:29 PM on September 1, 2010

Anywhere you have muscles, you can have cramping and pain. If the uterus is tight/in pain/cramped, it could trigger anything in the pelvic bowl up to the psoas or the quadratus lumborum to also lock up (and, vice versa... eek). Also- if there's any scar tissue (from injuries or surgeries), or, if you found yourself not moving for good periods of time, you might have adhesions, these also can produce these effects.

This isn't to say this is definitely the cause, but it's possible. Gentle movement, a bit of stretching can help regardless of what is the source vs. referral pain. Since you've had disc issues, you absolutely need to check in with your PT about what stretches are safe for you and to modify them so you don't cause further disc stress.

(Speaking as someone who's studying massage therapy and sports massage).
posted by yeloson at 7:55 PM on September 1, 2010

I had severe back pain caused by my uterus.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 10:26 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: hi, i'm studying to be an osteopath, so i can explain it from that p.o.v.

your uterus isn't just floating around in your body, it's attached all over the place with ligaments and fascia, which in turn connect to your bones (and other organs, and other fascia). so if you have a problem in one place, it can quickly spread out and cause problems in other places (kind of like when you take a sheet that's spread out on a bed and pull one corner - there are creases that form along the whole sheet).

So - your uterus is attached to your sacrum by two uterosacral ligaments (image here) . these ligaments are attached on the left and the right. you can imagine that, if your uterus (which is not at all situated like in the photo, it's more like a flying bat - you're looking at a bird's eye view there) starts rotating a bit, it's really going to pull on those ligaments there. and all the other ones, too, which attach all over the place (i could get specific but you were asking specifically about your sacrum).

your sacrum is attached to your lumbar spine, and is probably pulling it in a weird way, which will affect all the nerves (and everything else) in your back.

so, yep.

if you want more info you can private message me (or ask another question) and i will be glad to answer this - it helps me review my anatomy, which is what i should be doing anyways!
posted by andreapandrea at 5:21 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I, too, have had ovarian cysts that caused lower back pain. I kept trying to stretch it out, and nothing worked, and was then diagnosed with the cysts because of other symptoms, and realised that was what had caused the back pain as well.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:41 PM on September 2, 2010

I have back pain related to being me (forever) and a serious accident (early 20s).

A few years ago, there was enough of a change that I went through the whole round of diagnostics with the bone people and the baby doctor and so forth. They all thought it was possible that my new pain was caused by something gyno and did various scopes and scans for cysts or fibroids or wicked gremlins in my lady parts. (As it turned out, no.)

Unlike Eyebrows McGee, my uterus is right where it the books want it to be. However, I, too, have back pain if I have cramps during my "special time." If you put your hands on either side of the bottom of your spine with your fingertips on the top of your butt, the place where the heel of the hands are on the back - that area feels like I was smacked with bricks. Those TV ads where they show people putting heating pads on their tummies freak me out.

See your GP or your gyno and find out what's up. It's probably just ordinary aches and pain, but find out for sure.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:30 PM on September 3, 2010

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