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Back Pain in Men: What You Should Know

back pain crossfit

Back pain is a growing health concern with over 31 million Americans experiencing it regularly. Back pain, mostly lower back pain, contributes to missed days at work and has become one of the primary reasons for disability among workers globally.

Difference of Back Pain Between Men and Women

Most back pain in men and women is caused by underlying health conditions, doing regular and repetitive activities, performing high-intensity exercises, or involvement in accidents and injuries. Experts have learned, however, that back-related health problems are more prevalent in women than in men, according to a CDC study that spanned 16 years.

Pain, in general, affects men and women differently because the male and female hormones impact the tolerance of pain differently as well. The male anatomy also differs from the female anatomy, which in turn affects a man or a woman’s mechanism for pain management.

This doesn’t mean, however, that men won’t experience back pain as debilitatingly as women. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, it’s actually the men, rather than the women, who report back problems more often to their doctors or healthcare providers as it affects their work and day-to-day routines.

Common Medical Causes of Back Pain in Men

Specific male health conditions might lead to back pain in men. These include:

Kidney stones

While common in both genders, 13 percent of men suffer from kidney stones compared to only seven percent of women. If a man has a history of kidney stones in the family, then there’s an increased chance he will also develop the condition. One of the first signs is usually intermittent pain that radiates from the sides to the back.

Treating kidney stones will, of course, treat the back pain. A man will need to pass the stones in his urine by drinking plenty of water and taking medications that a doctor prescribes. In some cases, surgery or laser shock therapy may be necessary to break up the stones so they can pass.


The swelling of the prostate gland is often accompanied by low back pain for men, aside from problems with urination, rectum pain, and a heavy feeling in the scrotum area. Treating prostatitis will require therapy relative to the symptoms, as well as antibiotics, and pain medication.

Annie Thorisdottir Has Injured Her Back

Annie Thorisdottir’s back injury prevented her from defending her CrossFit Games title in 2013

Disc rupture

A herniated disc, otherwise known as a ruptured disc or a slipped disc, usually presents as excess pressure in the lower back. A herniated disc develops due to ageing and being overweight. It also develops when excessive strain is placed on the lower part of the spine. This is commonly experienced during contact sports with sudden impact, or during the improper lifting of heavy objects. Treating this condition may involve a combination of therapies and a spine surgery.

Ankylosing spondylitis

This is a type of arthritis that’s two or three times more prevalent in men than in women. It’s characterized by joint pain around the spine, lower back, and pelvic area. Often, it begins to develop in male patients as young as 17 years old. The condition has no known cure but pain can be alleviated through different therapies and medications depending on the person’s case, and as evaluated by a doctor.

Lifestyle Causes of Back Pain in Men

If a man’s back pain isn’t the result of a medical condition, then it could be due to his lifestyle. Performing high-intensity exercises without observing proper warm-up techniques and using heavy protective equipment can lead to back pain. Likewise, many men have jobs that require them to do strenuous physical activities or hard labor, such as professional athletes, or those who work in the construction industry, factories, and warehouses.

Lifestyle Modifications to Manage Back Pain

  • Avoid slouching your back when you sit or stand.

  • Switch to an ergonomically designed chair at your workplace.

  • Wear a back brace for men that’s made of breathable material to prevent too much sweating.

  • Observe proper body mechanics when lifting and moving objects.

  • Keep the objects you’re carrying close to your body to avoid twisting when you lift.

  • Avoid cigarette smoke and alcoholic drinks as these can only contribute to the degeneration of your bones and your spinal disks.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that won’t make you gain weight especially around the waist area.

  • Take calcium or vitamin D supplements to boost your bone’s health.

  • Do core strengthening exercises to build muscle strength in your back area.

If you suffer from back pain that has persisted for three months, it might be high time to get a proper diagnosis.

Back conditions can get worse and reduce your quality of life if not treated correctly.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.