Hip Pain Or Low Back Pain - Which One Is It?

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Learn how to determine and treat the right cause of osteoarthritis related joint pain i.e. whether it is hip generated or low-back generated pain.

Technically, the hip is the ball-and-socket joint between the long bone of the thigh and the pelvis; but more often than not, many people will point to a number of different places on their back or pelvis and say, “My hip is killing me” when it is not really “the hip” at all!

Hip pain can be located in the front (groin area), the side, the back, or in the buttocks. The “classic sign” of hip pain is reproduced most consistently when you try to cross your legs, put your ankle on the far end of the thigh and then push down on your knee.

This may feel tight and cause pain in the groin area. For many people, hip pain is also reproduced when they cross their legs and then pull their knee towards the opposite shoulder.

The hip is a “very” strong joint due to the deep receiving cup of the pelvis and the round ball that fits nicely into it. Because it is a freely moving joint, there is a joint capsule.

The capsule is lined with tissue that produces an oily substance that lubricates the joint (called synovial fluid), and when hip pain occurs, this can be caused by a capsulitis (inflammation of the capsule) with a buildup of synovial fluid (called synovitis).

When the smooth, shiny surface of the ball starts to wear thin (which can eventually wear away down to the bone), that is a condition called “osteoarthritis”.

This occurs over time for many and may eventually result in the need for a hip replacement.

This usually is not needed until an individual is in their late 60s or older (if at all), but for those who injure a hip earlier in life, the “wearing out” process may accelerate and a hip replacement may be needed well before old age.

Seek Chiropractic Help For The Right Evaluation Of The Condition

There are many studies that report low back and hip arthritis often occur together, and differentiating between the two can sometimes be a challenge.

For example, pain can radiate from the hip to the knee, which many doctors will diagnose as “sciatic nerve”. But, hip pain can present exactly the same, making it hard to determine if it is low back-generated pain or hip-generated pain.

This is why it is “so” important that your doctor of chiropractic conduct a careful history and examination. There are specific tests that he or she will perform that help determine which of the two is causing the pain.

There are times when they may find both problems co-existing together, making it necessary to manage two problems, rather than just one.

There are many mobilization, manipulation, soft tissue therapies, modalities, and exercises available to patients with both hip and low back pain.

So if you are not sure what is bothering you and you do not know what to do, visit your doctor of chiropractic and he or she will help you through this.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Dr. Blake Kalkstein DC, MS, CCSP, TPI, ART

While earning his D.C. degree, Dr. Blake worked as a chiropractic intern at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital in Bethesda, MD where he had the privilege to work in the amputee rehabilitation center. Dr. Blake’s post graduate sports medicine internship with John’s Hopkins Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeons allowed him to observe all types of injuries. Guidance from Dr. John Wilckens, team orthopedist for the Baltimore Orioles and his internship supervisor, led Dr. Blake to better understand advanced orthopedic and sports injuries and ways to appropriately manage each condition.

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