The pain from a pinched nerve in the hip can be severe. You may have pain when you move or you may walk with a limp. The pain can feel like an ache, or it may burn or tingle. You may also have numbness that can spread down your leg.
A pinched nerve occurs when tissues press on the nerve, causing tingling or even weakness. A pinched nerve in your hip can be caused by various things, including:
- sitting for extended periods of time
- herniated disc
- muscle strain
- bone spur
- being overweight or obese
Read on to learn more about this condition and what you can do to relieve the pain.
What does a pinched nerve in the hip feel like?
A pinched nerve feels different from a stiff back, though the pain and symptoms vary among different people. A pinched nerve in the hip often causes pain in the groin. Sometimes the pain also radiates down the inner thigh. It can travel to the knee as well.
If you have a pinched nerve in your hip, walking will make it worse. The more activity you do, the worse the pain should become. The pain may feel like a dull ache or it may be a sharp, burning pain. You may also experience painful numbness, especially in the buttocks, or a tingling sensation. Some people also notice a tight feeling.
Many pinched nerves resolve on their own and don’t need medical treatment. There are many home remedies to try, but it’s still best to double-check with your doctor first. They can rule out other conditions that may require different treatment.
To treat the condition at home, start with rest and over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). Find out when you should take ibuprofen or naproxen.
Ice and heat can also help. Ice reduces swelling and heat helps your blood circulate, which may help reduce pain. Alternate between the two.
While you’re resting, avoid sitting or standing in a position that increases your pain. That could be a sign that you’re putting additional pressure on the pinched nerve. The pinched nerve may cause severe pain in the hip, buttocks, and legs.
You may also be able to do gentle stretches and exercises to help relieve the pressure. You can do these in between periods of rest.
Depending on where your pain is, some stretches could be helpful. When the piriformis is tight, it can put pressure on the nerves. To stretch that area, follow the steps below.
- Take a seat with legs bent in front of you.
- Rest the ankle of the affected side on the opposite knee. Then lie down flat on your back.
- Bend your bottom leg so that you can clasp your knee with both hands.
- Gently pull the knee in towards your body.
- To increase the stretch, move your hand down to grasp your ankle and pull the leg gently towards the opposite hip.
- Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
- Switch legs and repeat the stretch.
- Do the stretch three times per leg.
Often, a pinched nerve in the hip is caused or exacerbated by a weak core, so working on strengthening your abdominals and back is helpful. The plank exercise tones the entire core.
To do a plank:
- Lie flat on your stomach.
- Place your forearms flat on the ground, with your elbows aligned below your shoulders.
- Roll your toes under so that the balls of your toes are flat on the floor.
- Push up onto your forearms and toes and hold this position for 30 seconds. Your back should be flat, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your toes.
Staying active is crucial for avoiding pinched nerves, so make sure to take plenty of standing and walking breaks throughout the day. You can also try these stretches for sciatica pain relief.
If you work at a desk, take short stretching breaks every hour, or talk to your human resources department about using a standing desk. If you spend a large part of your day on your feet, make sure you’re wearing shoes that provide good support. The proper shoes can help reduce pressure on your hips and spine.
Practicing good posture
The way you sit and stand may put extra pressure on a pinched nerve. Small changes to your posture may help reduce the pressure and relieve your pain. When you stand, focus on evenly distributing your weight to both feet, and keep your shoulders back. To practice good posture while sitting, keep both feet on the floor. That means you should avoid sitting with your legs crossed. Keep your spine straight and your shoulders pulled back to avoid hunching over. Here are more tips for good posture while sitting.
When should I see the doctor?
If the pain is too uncomfortable or has lasted for more than a couple days, it’s time to see your doctor. In addition to talking with your doctor, you may want to try working with a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist. According to recent recommendations from the American College of Physicians, methods such as massage, acupuncture, heat, or spinal manipulation should be used before medication for low back pain.
A physical therapist may also help. Physical therapists can teach you exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the pinched nerve.
In general, pinched nerves resolve on their own within a few days or weeks. You may be able improve the recovery process with home treatments, such as:
- ice and heat
- exercises and stretches
- over-the-counter pain medications
If symptoms do not improve with treatment, or if you think they’re getting worse, talk to your doctor.
Preventing a pinched nerve
To prevent a pinched nerve in the hip, make sure to take care of your muscles. If you have a job or hobby that requires you to lift heavy loads, be extra diligent about proper form. Remember these tips:
- Bend at the knees, not the back.
- Ask for help when lifting heavy or awkwardly shaped objects.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects while injured, which could make your condition worse.
Other prevention measures to consider are maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise. In particular, strengthening your core and back muscles can help prevent future injuries.