What is the Connection Between Back and Hip Pain?

Dan Cavallari

Back and hip pain are often experienced together, combining to make a discomfort that can be debilitating. Many of the muscles that surround the hips are connected to muscles in the lower back, meaning a strain on one muscle can affect both areas of the body. Sciatic nerve pain is another common cause of back and hip pain, since that nerve runs from the lower back through the hips and down the length of each leg. The motion of the hips, when interrupted or altered, can affect muscles in the lower back, causing those muscles to overcompensate to keep the body balanced. So many of the functions of the hip affect the lower back, and vice versa, that pain is often felt in both.

Sciatic nerve pain is a common cause of hip and back pain.
Sciatic nerve pain is a common cause of hip and back pain.

Fractures and bone breaks can also cause back and hip pain, and such conditions will require the attention of a doctor. Such injuries are often the result of a direct trauma, such as a fall or an automobile accident. Other types of injuries, such as muscle strains, commonly occur during athletic activities. A muscle strain occurs when the small fibers that make up a muscle are stretched beyond their means and tear. This can result in back and hip pain that is manifested as dull aches, or as sharp, shooting pains that persist for hours or even days. Adequate rest and light stretching will be required to alleviate the pain and repair the muscle.

Arthritis in the spine and hips is another common cause of back and hip pain. Arthritis is a gradual wearing down of the joints, as the ligaments that connect the bones in a joint begin to deteriorate. Since the hips and lower back both contain joints susceptible to arthritis, pain is often felt in both areas. Arthritis in the hip can cause lower back pain even if the joints in the lower back are not arthritic, as the pain can radiate — that is, spread beyond the original cause of the pain.

People who experience sharp, shooting pain throughout the lower back, buttocks, hips, or legs may be experiencing sciatic nerve pain, which is a common cause of back and hip pain. The sciatic nerve can become compressed due to strained or tight muscles, or it can become compressed between bones in a joint. It can also be compressed due to a herniated disc in the spine. When such compression occurs, a shooting pain can be felt throughout the back and hips; numbness in the legs may also occur, and a feeling of weakness in the legs and hips may accompany the pain.

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