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Navigating Intimacy with Back Pain


Sexuality is an integral part of normal and healthy relationships. However, when it comes to back or neck pain, it can be difficult to navigate and maintain intimacy. It need not be the first thing abandoned when you or your significant other is suffering from back or neck pain. Pain, and especially spine pain, can have a negative impact on sex. This is because people are afraid to hurt themselves, the movements do actually hurt, or sometimes, because pain or medication reduce desire. 

Communicating is Key

It is a common problem for individuals suffering from spine pain, yet it is a topic that is infrequently discussed or written about. People who are suffering with pain often feel embarrassed to talk about it, even with their doctor. A survey showed that 67% of patients had never discussed the impact of their back pain on their sex life with their spine specialist.
When it comes to communicating with your partner about the impact of back pain on your sex life, it can be difficult to bring up the topic. However, it is important to remember that good communication is critical for maintaining a healthy relationship. Without proper communication, one partner may mistakenly interpret a reluctance to engage in sexual activity as a lack of desire for intimacy, which can lead to feelings of rejection and resentment.

Finding Comfortable Positions

Many conditions of the spine can make certain positions uncomfortable during sexual activity. However, this doesn't mean that intimacy has to be abandoned altogether. Experimenting with different positions can help you find the ones that are most comfortable for you. The general rule is "If it hurts do not do it". Positions that are not comfortable in your day-to-day activities will not be comfortable during sex either, but do not be afraid to try out new positions. It is also important to remember that sexual activity is not limited to intercourse. Showing affection and intimacy through other means such as touching and cuddling can still be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Managing Back Pain during Sex

As a rule, the partner with lower back pain should take a passive role in lovemaking, with the other partner introducing stimulation in a very relaxed manner. This allows the other partner to introduce stimulation in a relaxed manner and at a comfortable pace. Remember to take it slow and to identify which movements are comfortable and which ones cause pain. If intercourse is too painful, it is important to remember that there are other ways to show affection and intimacy.


Pain and the fear of causing further pain can lead to a reduction in sexual activity and desire. However, it is important to remember that intimacy and connection in a relationship can still be maintained despite back pain. Good communication, experimenting with different positions, and finding ways to show affection and intimacy outside of intercourse are all key in navigating this challenge. Remember that everyone's pain is different and there is no right or wrong way to navigate intimacy with spine pain. The most important thing is to communicate with your partner, and to touch and show affection to each other.

EUROSPINE is a society of spine specialists of various disciplines with a large knowledge of spine pathologies. All well-known and accepted treatment modalities for spine pathologies are represented by the members of the society. However, the Society cannot accept any responsibility for the use of the information provided; the user and their health care professionals must retain responsibility for their health care management.

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