I saw something somewhere that said women with metabolic syndrome are more likely to have low back pain. I have both. What's the connection?
The question has been raised: is there a link between metabolic syndrome and low back pain? Any condition that can reduce or restrict physical activity has the potential to contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and low back pain. In a recent study from Japan, researchers investigated the relationship and prevalence between metabolic syndrome and low back pain. They paid close attention to the differences between men and women's health.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that, when occurring together, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Different groups (e.g., American Heart Association, International Diabetes Federation, National Cholesterol Education Program) have varied criteria to define metabolic syndrome. Most at least include these three: 1) raised blood pressure, 2) central obesity (increased waist circumference), and 3) abnormal cholesterol levels.
Statistical analysis showed that obese women with metabolic syndrome were more likely to develop low back pain compared with obese men with metabolic syndrome. This difference looked more like a tendency toward low back pain among women than a significant trend.
Why the difference between men and women? Scientists suspect female-specific hormones and menopausal status have something to do with it. Women who are postmenopausal are also older, have reduced estrogen levels, and elevated blood pressure. Lower estrogen levels also contribute to decreased bone density, which in turn, can lead to low back pain.
The transition from premenopause to postmenopause estrogen-deficient status is associated with the emergence of many features of the metabolic syndrome, such as central obesity (intraabdominal body fat), insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia, which are also known to be risk factors for heart disease. The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome increases with menopause and may partially explain the apparent acceleration of heart disease after menopause as well.