Experiencing lower back pain is quite common. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), close to 80 percent of adults have lower back pain at some point in their lives. The pain can range in intensity from a dull ache to sharp sensations that affect your mobility and quality of life.
Back pain can easily be mistaken for hip pain and discomfort. The joint of your hip is located near your spine. For that reason, injuries to your hip can resemble or actually cause back pain. In addition to hip and lower back pain, you may also experience:
Here are five possible causes of lower back and hip pain.
Acute back pain is often the result of muscle sprains or strains. Sprains occur when your ligaments are overstretched and sometimes torn. Strains, on the other hand, are caused by stretching — and possible tearing — of your tendons or muscles. Though the immediate reaction is pain in your back, you may also experience dull aches or discomfort in your hip.
Treatment for sprains and strains includes proper stretching and, in more severe cases, physical therapy. If your pain worsens, schedule a visit to your doctor to get proper treatment and to ensure your pain isn’t the result of a more serious injury.
A pinched nerve is an uncomfortable condition that may cause shooting pain, tingling, and discomfort, particularly if it occurs in your back, spine, or hip. A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding bones, muscles, or tissues. The pressure interrupts proper nerve function, causing pain, numbness, and weakness.
In some cases, old scar tissue from previous injuries can also cause pinched nerves. Other causes of pinched nerves include:
Pain from this condition usually lasts a short period of time and often results in no permanent damage once treated. However, if there is persistent pressure on a nerve, you may experience chronic pain and may be at an increased risk of permanent nerve damage.
The most common treatment for a pinched nerve is rest. If your muscles or nerves are affected, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to increase your mobility and strength. For short-term relief, you doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain. More severe cases of pinched or damaged nerves may require surgery.
Arthritis is a common culprit of back and hip pain. It can also be felt in the front of your thigh and groin area. Often a result of aging and gradual wear and tear on the body, arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints.
Common symptoms of arthritis include:
Treatment for arthritis focuses on relieving symptoms and improving mobility. Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications and/or pain relievers. They might also prescribe disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) — drugs meant to slow or stop your immune system from attacking your joints. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to strengthen your joints and increase your range of motion. For more severe cases, surgery may be required.
Also called a ruptured or slipped disk, a herniated disk occurs when the “jelly” inside your spinal disk is pushed out through the harder exterior of the disk. This can cause nearby nerves to become irritated, often causing pain and numbness. Some people who have a herniated disk, however, may never experience painful symptoms.
Other than back pain, you may also experience symptoms including:
- thigh pain
- hip and butt pain
To treat a herniated disk, your doctor may recommend prescription drugs to reduce pain and muscle relaxers. Surgery or physical therapy are also treatments for this condition if your symptoms worsen or if your condition begins to affect your quality of life.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Your sacroiliac joint — also referred to as the SI joint — connects your hip bones to your sacrum, the triangular bone between the lumbar spine and the tailbone. This joint is meant to absorb shock between your upper body, pelvis, and legs. Strain or injury to the SI joint can cause radiating pain in your hip, back, and groin area.
Treatment focuses on reducing pain and restoring normal motion to the SI joint. Your doctor may recommend rest, pain medication, and/or hot and cold compresses to reduce muscle tension and inflammation. An injection of a steroid into the joint is often helpful. In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Back and hip pain are common ailments. They may, however, also be symptoms of more serious medical conditions. If your pain worsens or is accompanied by irregular symptoms, schedule a visit with your doctor. Together, you and your doctor can discuss the best form of treatment to help you cope with your pain and improve your condition.