The first time I found out I had a uterine fibroid was in the late 1990’s when my gynecologist found one during a routine pelvic exam. He said it was rather small and of no concern unless it grew larger and caused physical problems. Fast forward to 2004 when that same small fibroid grew to the size of a grapefruit and caused me immense lower back pain. The end result was a myomectomy to remove the uterine fibroid. When the fibroid was removed, the back pain ended.
So did the uterine fibroid cause my lower back pain?
What is a uterine fibroid?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can develop inside or outside the uterus and rarely require medical intervention. Medical attention is necessary when they cause symptoms serious enough to interfere with your daily routine. Treatments include surgical removal and medication.
What are the symptoms of a uterine fibroid?
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavy vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or pressure, pain with intercourse, and bladder discomfort causing frequent urges to urinate. And, although it is rare, a fibroid can cause lower back pain under certain circumstances.
When do uterine fibroids cause lower back pain?
According to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, fibroids outside the uterus are more likely to cause lower back pain than fibroids inside the uterus. In addition, if the fibroid is positioned on the back of the uterus and big enough to press against back muscles and nerves, there is a greater chance it will cause lower back pain.
Is this what caused my lower back pain?
Yes and no. Yes I did have a large uterine fibroid on the back of my uterus. However, it was pressing against my right kidney, which caused my kidney to swell. This potentially serious condition is called hydronephrosis and, in some cases, it occurs secondarily to uterine fibroids. Hydronephrosis can also occur if the fibroid is constricting a ureter and causing urine to back up into the kidney.
So it turns out the swollen kidney caused my lower back pain and not the fibroid itself.
How can you tell if your back pain is caused by uterine fibroids?
If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, ask your gynecologist to perform a routine pelvic exam to see if you have any abnormal growth on or inside your uterus. If something is found, a radiological test like an ultrasound or MRI can pinpoint a more exact diagnosis and any underlying problems. Don’t assume your lower back pain is simply due to a benign uterine fibroid.