Why Does My Lower Back and Hip Hurt?

Due to codependent structures of the lower back and hip if one of these systems faces some issues may create dysfunction and pain in the other.

  • If you have chronic lower back pain, your hip movements can decrease and the muscles around your hip joint can become tight and painful.
  • If your hip function is irregular, your lower back mechanics can be changed, causing pain in both regions.

Many groups of muscles share in the lower back and hip. It can lead to compensatory movements, weakness, and pain in the other surrounding muscles when a particular muscle is affected.

To learn how lower back and hip pain can happen together, read on. While one side of your lower back and hip can be affected by certain conditions, others may cause pain on both sides at the same time.

Sharp pain in the lower back and hip on one side

Muscle spasm, joint dysfunction, and/or nerve compression in the area can cause shooting and sharp pain felt on one side of your lower back and hip. Below, common conditions are addressed that cause this form of pain.

Piriformis syndrome

A small muscle (behind the gluteus maximus) situated deep in the buttock is the piriformis muscle.

  • It begins at the lower spine and attaches to each femur’s (thighbone) upper surface.
  • Features to help rotate the hip and to transform the external leg and foot
  • Runs diagonally, passing directly under the sciatic nerve vertically (although the nerve can pass through the muscle in some individuals).

Deep in the buttock, spasm of the piriformis muscle can cause:

  • Moderate to extreme pain in the lower back, hip, and buttocks
  • Referred pain which can spread to the back of the thigh
  • The inability for a long time to sit

Usually, the pain is felt on one hand and can be worsened by hip movements, such as when you get out of bed.

Piriformis syndrome is often caused by overactivity of the rotator muscles of the hip (which help to rotate the hip inward or laterally) or by extended periods sitting on hard surfaces. This pain may also be caused by an injury to the buttock.

Causes of Piriformis Syndrome

It is unclear the exact causes of Piriformis syndrome. Causes that are suspected include:

  • Muscle spasm in the muscle of the piriformis, either due to discomfort in the muscle of the piriformis itself or due to discomfort of a nearby structure such as the sacroiliac joint or hip
  • Muscle tightening in response to an injury or spasm
  • Bleeding in the muscle piriformis region.

The piriformis muscle (causing buttock pain) may be affected by either or a combination of the above problems and may affect the adjacent sciatic nerve (causing pain, tingling, or numbness in the back of the leg, calf, or foot).

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

Lower back and/or leg pain may often be caused by dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint, sometimes called the SI joint. Leg pain from sacroiliac joint dysfunction, although they can feel very similar, maybe especially difficult to distinguish from radiating leg pain caused by lumbar disc herniation (sciatica).

The sacroiliac joint, inflammation inside the joint that links your lower spine to your pelvis, can cause:

  • Directly over the lower back, hip, and buttock, a sharp, stabbing pain felt
  • Pain that can extend down the back of your leg, but does not normally extend under the knee

Certain positions or behaviors, such as going from standing to sitting, climbing stairs, or lying on the affected side, can cause your pain to flare up.

Due to arthritis, trauma, or repeated discomfort inside the joint, the sacroiliac joint may become a source of the lower back, hip, and buttock pain. This joint is also a common source of pain in pregnant women due to hormonal and bodily changes at the time.

Sacroiliac joint pain, though more common on one side, can also affect both sides of the lower back and hip.

Symptoms of Piriformis syndrome and dysfunction of the sacroiliac joint can resemble lumbar radiculopathy, commonly referred to as sciatica.

Pain and stiffness in the lower back and hip

Pressure in the lower back and hip may be followed by a sensation of stiffness. Usually, this symptom is a defensive mechanism of the body to stop further damage in the region. Stiffness that occurs with pain can significantly weaken and decrease back, hip, and leg function. Here are a few common conditions that together may cause these symptoms to happen.

Strained hamstrings

Because of a strain injury, tightness in your hamstrings can change the biomechanics of your spine. Tight hamstrings are shorter in length and the curvature of the lower part of your spine may be influenced by this move, interrupting the lower back’s alignment with your hip. You can experience a sensation of discomfort with or without pain in your lower back.

When you bend your spine forward, the stiffness is generally more pronounced. To stop bending their hip and knee joints, some individuals even walk with a stiff leg.

Osteoarthritis of the hip

Age-related hip joint degeneration (hip osteoarthritis) can cause lower back pain and stiffness in the hip.

Osteoarthritis of the hip causes stiffness and a major reduction in the range of motion of the hip. This shift can lead to a forward tilt of the hip, disturbing the curvature of the lower spine. The lower spine’s inward curvature (lordosis) can become more pronounced, causing the lower spinal discs to bulge or herniate at times.

Over time, this disorder can also cause the spinal joints to degenerate, resulting in a more advanced issue called a hip-spine syndrome.

This list of all potential causes of lower back and hip pain is not exhaustive. Speak to the doctor if you experience lower back and hip pain and/or discomfort that does not heal with self-care and affects the everyday activities. A doctor will diagnose the cause of your lower back problem correctly and draw up a recovery plan for the underlying disorder.