Why Your Hip and Lower Back May Hurt
Published on: May 07, 2021

Published By: Southwest Physical Therapy

Hip and Lower Back Pain

A problem in your hip or lower back can cause pain and dysfunction in the other because they are codependent structures. 

  • The mechanics of your lower back may be altered if there’s an abnormality in your hip function, causing pain in both regions.
  • The movements in your hip may be reduced if you have chronic lower back pain, and the muscles surrounding your hip joint can become painful and tense.

Many groups of muscles are shared by the hip and lower back. Fatigue, compensatory movements, and pain can be experienced in the surrounding muscles of a specific muscle that is affected. To learn how hip and lower back pain can occur together, please read on. While some conditions can cause pain on both sides of your lower back and hip at the same time, others may affect just one side.

A sharp pain on one side of the hip and lower back 

Joint dysfunction, muscle spasm, and/or nerve compression in the region may cause a sharp and shooting pain felt on one side on your hip and lower back. This type of pain is caused by the common conditions that are discussed below.

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle located deep in the buttock may experience spasm that cause:

  • You are unable to sit for a long period of time
  • Moderate to severe buttock, lower back, and hip pain 
  • Referred pain that may reach into the back of your thigh

The pain may be worsened by hip movements such as while getting out of bed, and is typically felt just on one side. 

Sitting on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time or overactivity of the hip rotator muscles (which help rotate the hip laterally or inward) are what commonly cause piriformis syndrome. This pain may also be caused by an injury to the buttock.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint is the joint that connects your pelvis to your lower spine, and inflammation within it can cause:

  • Pain that typically does not extend below the knee, but may extend down the back of your thigh
  • A sharp, stabbing pain felt directly over the buttock, hip, and lower back. 

Your pain may flare up due to certain activities or positions, such as climbing stairs, going from standing to sitting, or lying on the affected side. Due to trauma, arthritis, or repetitive stress within the joint, the sacroiliac joint may become a source of buttock, hip, and lower back pain. Pregnant women tend to experience pain from this joint due to bodily and hormonal changes at the time.

Sacroiliac joint pain can also affect both sides of the hip and lower back, even though it is more common to occur on just one side. Lumbar radiculopathy, commonly known as sciatica, may be mimicked by the symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction and piriformis syndrome.

Stiffness and Pain in the Hip and Lower Back

Pain in the hip and lower back can be accompanied by a feeling of stiffness. To prevent further injury in the area, the body typically prompts this symptom as a protective mechanism. It can considerably reduce function in the leg, back, and hip and be debilitating when stiffness occurs and is coupled with pain. A few common conditions that may cause these symptoms to occur together are:

Hamstring Strains 

The biomechanics of your spine may be altered by tightness in your hamstrings due to a strain injury. The curvature of the lower part of your spine can be affected by the change in hamstrings that become shorter in length when they are tight, which disrupts the alignment of the lower back with your hip. This can make you experience a feeling of stiffness in your lower back that may be with or without pain.

Usually when you bend your spine forward is when the stiffness is more pronounced. To avoid bending their knee and hip joints, some people also walk with a stiff leg. This list of all possible causes of hip and lower back pain is not exhaustive, so you need to talk to your doctor if you experience pain and/or stiffness in your hip and lower back that affects your daily activities and does not go away with self-care. The cause of your lower back problem can be accurately diagnosed by a doctor and she/he can formulate a treatment plan for the underlying condition.

Physical therapy helps keep you, and your lower back and hip healthy and helps you prevent injury. The great thing is that you can always find physical therapy near you. Your friendly neighborhood Southwest Physical Therapy works wonders with myofascial release therapy, so you are very fortunate that we are your physical therapy clinic near you in the Big Apple’s Brooklyn, NY. Call us TODAY for your FREE phone consultation and book your appointment. Or just drop on in – for the instant you walk through our door we’re family and you won’t be interrupting nor get kicked out. We truly care and know you’ve suffered enough already with your condition that our world-class physical therapists can resolve. Come on down and get the pain relief and improved mobility you’ve been dreaming about!

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