Back pain is something most people suffer at one time or the other, and can be the result of wrong posture or a myriad other things.
In women, however, the problem of low back pain can be the symptom of some severe gynecological conditions, doctors say.
Ngoc Bich, 26, of Ho Chi Minh City, started to have severe back pains after two stillbirths in a row.
Bich went to hospital to have her spinal cord checked, thinking that the pains resulted from her work, which involves a lot of standing and walking, but X-rays found no problem.
During further discussions with the doctors, she said she also usually suffered hypogastric pains, irregular menstrual cycles, and unusual vaginal discharge.
She was advised to consult with a gynecologist, so Bich went to Tu Du, a leading ob-gyn hospital in the city, and was diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease, which is the inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries. The disease can lead to infertility, doctors said.
Hoang Cong Minh, director of the Nhan Sinh (Human Life) private hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, said many women of reproductive age between around 15 and 50 years old suffer the same problem as Bich back pains together with lower abdominal pains and irregular periods.
Minh said when he used to work at the Saigon International Ob-Gyn Hospital in the city, he received many patients like her who had first gone to doctors for treating back pain.
He said in some cases, the disease had become cancerous by the time the women come to the right specialists.
Based on his experience, he prescribes gynecological tests for any women coming to Nhan Sinh with back pain problems so as to save their time and enable early detection. He said the tests have proved necessary in more than 90 percent of cases.
Minh said besides pelvic inflammatory disease, which is often caused by sexually transmitted infections, back pains can also be the result of cervical cancer or cervicitis, uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse, and other factors.
The pelvic inflammatory disease involves viral, fungal, or parasitic, though most often bacterial infections to nearby organs and tissues, causing scarring inside the reproductive organs. This, in turn, can lead to complications including chronic pelvic pain, infertility and ectopic pregnancy with the fertilized egg developing outside the womb.
Patients diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease are traditionally treated with tuboplastic surgeries to repair the fallopian tubes through which the eggs pass, but in vitro fertilization (IVF) has become the main solution for women who want to be pregnant.
Uterine prolapse usually happens after a baby or babies are delivered. The uterus drops out of its normal position into the vaginal canal as a result of weakened pelvic muscles and tissue, causing back pains and several problems to the urinary tract.
Back pains usually happen at the later stages of cervical cancer, as the cancerous cells have blocked the urinary tract.
Cervicitis or uterine fibroids also cause back pains as they affect the neurological tissues in the area.
Cervicitis, usually caused by sexually transmitted infections and also by intrauterine devices, contraceptive diaphragms, or allergic reactions to spermicides or latex condoms, can cause cervical polyps, 1 percent of which may lead to cancer, with the rest causing few symptoms other than irregular menstrual bleeding.
Uterine fibroids, meanwhile, are the most frequently found benign tumor in women, but if they are not treated, they can lead to chronic pelvic pain, besides anemia due to heavy menstrual bleeding. Women will also have difficulty urinating and find sexual intercourse painful.
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