Which came first, the back (spine) pain or the hip pain? Patients, and orthopedists alike, often grapple with that question when assessing pain associated with the lower back, buttocks, groin, thighs, and sometimes knees.
The spine and hip joints are so closely aligned that it can be very difficult to tell which one is the culprit. And often times, one condition can feed off of another in these two areas. A recent article in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons outlined the similarities of spine and hip pain, and also the differences in treatment for each.
A hip condition is often marked by groin pain, and difficulty sitting up or down, or bending over to pick up something or put shoes on.A spinal issue is frequently characterized by tingling or numbness in the buttocks or lower back.
To pinpoint the exact cause of the pain, and whether it’s from the hip or spine, , the following should be considered:
gait assessment (how you walk)
hip and back range of motion
pelvic, lower limb, and spinal alignment
any loss of muscle (atrophy)
previous surgical scars
Conditions do exist however where there is no clear distinction. The most common one being arthritis.
“There can often be overlapping symptoms when both lumbar arthritis and hip arthritis are present,” says Dr. Zach Logan, one of our specialists in adult hip and knee reconstruction. “Making an accurate diagnosis requires constant vigilance and resistance of the temptation to get tunnel vision.”