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Why Does My Lower Back and Hip Hurt?

Lower back and hip pain that occur together may have several common causes. Certain health conditions, overuse, or injuries can affect the nerves in these areas, or it may be a symptom of an underlying condition. Seek medical attention if your lower back and hip are hurting with fatigue and pain in the surrounding muscles. Visit Redefine Healthcare for specialist guidance regarding the pain you are experiencing and the best treatment options for relieving it. Dr. Eric Freeman is an experienced, board-certified physician who helps you overcome a wide variety of pain conditions, including neck, back, and hip pain, with the highest quality, comprehensive therapies. He focuses on eliminating or drastically reducing your pain while addressing its sources to improve your movement and quality of life.

As the lower back and hip are codependent structures, a problem in any one of the structures can cause dysfunction and pain in the other. Chronic lower back pain can reduce hip movements, leading to painful and tense muscles in the hip, while any abnormality in the hip function can affect the mechanics of the lower back, causing discomfort in both areas.

The lower back and hips are often overworked as they are responsible for lifting, twisting, and moving the legs and trunk. Pain due to overuse and minor injuries is common in the lower parts of the body. These pains are not unheard of, but they should not be ignored. They can be treated with home remedies and self-care treatments. Rest and early treatment can improve the pain and prevent complications.

Read on to know why your lower back and hip hurt, what conditions may be causing it and what you can do to ease this pain. While some conditions may affect one side of the lower back and hip, others can cause pain on both sides, at the same time.

Pain and Stiffness in the Lower Back and Hip

Sharp Pain in the Lower Back and Hip on One Side

A shooting, sharp pain on one side of your lower back and hip may be resulting from muscle spasms, joint dysfunction, and nerve compression in the region.

Common conditions that can cause this type of pain include:

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis is a flat, narrow muscle, located deep in the buttock region. Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerves and causes inflammation. It can result in pain or numbness in the buttock and down the back of the leg.

Spasms of the piriformis muscle can lead to:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the lower back, hip, and buttock
  • Referred pain that may extend into the back of the thigh
  • Inability to sit for a long time

Piriformis syndrome is caused by overactivity of the hip rotator muscles that help the hip to rotate inward or laterally due to sitting on hard surfaces for prolonged periods. Sometimes, an injury to the buttock area may also cause this pain. This pain is usually felt on one side and worsens with hip movements, such as when getting out of bed.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint connects the lower portion of the spine to the pelvis. If these joints move too much or too little, it can cause pain in the back and hips. It is more common on one side, but sacroiliac joint pain can also affect both sides of the lower back and hip.

Inflammation within the joint can lead to:

  • A sharp, stabbing pain that is felt directly over the lower back, hips, and buttock
  • Pain that extends down the back of the thigh but does not extend beyond the knee
  • Pain during certain activities or positions that flare up the pain, such as when standing up from sitting, running, climbing stairs, or lying on the affected side

Sometimes sacroiliac joint can cause pain in the lower back, hip, and buttocks due to arthritis, trauma, or repetitive stress within the joint. Pregnant women may also experience pain in this joint due to hormonal and bodily changes during that time.

Symptoms of piriformis syndrome and sacroiliac joint dysfunction are often similar to lumbar radiculopathy, commonly known as sciatica. Sciatica refers to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. If something injures or puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain in the lower back that spread to the hips, buttocks, and legs.

Pain and Stiffness in the Lower Back and Hip

Lower back and hip pain are often accompanied by stiffness. It is usually a protective mechanism of the body to prevent further injury in the area. Stiffness that occurs with pain can be debilitating and reduces friction in the back, hip and leg to a large extent.

A few common conditions that may cause these symptoms to occur together include:

Strained Hamstrings

A pulled or strained hamstring muscle can cause radiating pain in the lower back and the buttock area. If you exercise a lot and experience severe pain during exercise and tenderness, pain in the thigh muscles, sharp front thigh pain, and tenderness and bruising in the thigh area, it may be due to a strained hamstring.

Tightness in your hamstring due to a strain injury may alter the biomechanics of your spine. Tight hamstrings are shorter in length, and this change can affect the curvature of the lower part of the spine, disrupting the alignment of the lower back with the hips. You may develop stiffness in the lower back with or without pain. This stiffness is usually more pronounced when you bend your spine forward. Some people also walk with stiff legs to avoid bending their hips and knee joints.

Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Age-related degeneration of the hip joint can cause pain in the lower back and stiffness in the hips. As the cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears away over time, it becomes frayed and rough, and the protective joint space between the bones decreases. This results in bone rubbing on the bone, which leads to stiffness and a significant decrease in the hip’s range of motion.

These changes can cause the hip to induce forward, disrupting the curvature of the lower spine. The inward curvature of the lower spine may become more pronounced, sometimes causing the lower spinal discs to bulge or herniate. This condition can also cause degeneration of the spinal joints, resulting in a more advanced problem called a hip-spine syndrome.

Disc Herniation

A herniated disc occurs when one of the cushioning discs between the vertebrae slips out of place. This disc can put pressure on a nearby nerve that leads to tingling and burning pain in the lower back that extends to the hips and legs.

Elderly people are more likely to suffer from disc herniation due to natural wear and tear of the spine that occurs with time. The discs also become less flexible with age. Improper lifting or twisting while lifting, some falls or trauma, and overweight and repetitive strain on the back can also lead to a herniated disc. Sciatica or a sharp, shooting pain from the buttocks down the back of one leg, numbness, and muscle weakness in the leg or foot can result in back and hip pain.

The above-mentioned are not all the reasons behind your lower back and hip ache. People with debilitating back issues can develop symptoms in the back of the hip near the buttocks. This pain can also go down the back of the hamstring, past the knee, and outside or back of the calf.

When to See a Doctor for Your Lower Back and Hip Pain?

If your lower back and hip continue to hurt despite rest and over-the-counter treatments, it is best to see a doctor.

You must seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms with lower back and hip pain:

  • Loss of bowel and bladder function
  • Inability to move one or both legs
  • Loss of sensation in one or both legs
  • Visible deformity in the legs or back, such as the inability to stand up straight

A healthcare professional evaluate your symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis and suggest the most effective treatment to address your source of pain or the underlying condition.

Pain in the lower back and hip can affect your performance and daily life activities. If the pain or discomfort does not resolve or gets worse, seek medical attention. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Eric Freeman at Redefine Healthcare, an experienced and board-certified physician, to learn how lower back and hip pain can occur together. The specialist helps you understand your condition and comes up with the best ways to eliminate your pain. He uses the most advanced minimally invasive treatments at the pain management clinic to safely and effectively alleviate the discomfort disrupting your normal movements.

Page Updated on Dec 12, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare

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Dr. Eric D. Freeman

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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