The hips rely on supporting soft tissues and nerves to facilitate various movements. One of two ball-and-socket joints in the human body, the hip joint is also intersected by the sciatic and femoral nerves and cushioned by fluid-filled sacs. These are the same parts that can contribute to acute or chronic hip pain or related symptoms that may affect the lower back and other nearby areas. The trusted Beverly Hills spine surgeons from The Spine Institute want to share a closer look at eight possible causes of hip-related pain.
The most common cause of hip arthritis among people 50 and under, hip dysplasia is a congenital condition that causes the hip’s ball-and-socket joint to not fit together properly. Because there isn’t a secure fit, there’s excessive wiggling in the hips, which can accelerate joint wear and tear.
Over time, cartilage that allows the femoral head to glide smoothly over the hipbone socket can break down. One of the most common reasons this happens is a form of arthritis known as osteoarthritis. As cartilage wears down, friction increases with hip movements. This added friction can contribute to inflammation, pinched/compressed nerves, reduced flexibility of hip ligaments, and the development of bone spurs.
A triangular-shaped bone in the lower spine connects to the upper part of the pelvic girdle to form the sacroiliac (SI) joint. When one or both SI joints are inflamed, pain that extends to the buttocks, lower back, and legs is sometimes worsened by prolonged standing or actions such as climbing stairs, placing more weight on one leg than the other, or running. This condition, referred to as sacroiliitis, sometimes develops due to added pressure on the sacrum during pregnancy. Arthritis can also irritate soft tissues near SI joints.
Tendons linking the hip to hamstring muscles, the glutes, groin muscles, quads, or a deep core muscle that connects the femur to lower back vertebrae may become inflamed if supporting muscles become tight or weak. The resulting tendinitis may cause hips to feel stiff in the morning or following long periods of rest. Tendonitis affecting one or both hips can be caused by a sudden injury, or it can develop from related degeneration of a hip joint.
When fluid-filled bursa sacs on the outside point of the hip become inflamed, it’s a condition known as trochanteric bursitis, or greater trochanteric pain syndrome. Incorrect posture, sudden injury, soft tissue stress, and hip bone spurs are among the possible reasons this condition may develop and cause pain in the hips, thighs, or buttocks.
A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon that supports a hip is torn or overstretched. A sprain affects ligaments in the hips like the Y-shaped iliofemoral ligament that connects the pelvis to the head of the femur. Hip-related strains and sprains can result from a direct impact from a fall, when playing contact sports, or from overexertion, like what might happen if you don’t stretch first when exercising.
The hip socket is protected by a patch of cartilage that wraps around it. If the thick tissue tears, friction may be increased between the femur and the hip socket, which may contribute to accelerated deterioration of the hip joint.
If inflamed soft tissues or bony structures in the lower back or hips contribute to nerve irritation in the hips, resulting symptoms may extend from the hip area downward into the legs. An irritated sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower spine and extends into the legs, may also cause similar symptoms, a condition called sciatica.
Some hip disorders or abnormalities, especially those present at birth, aren’t preventable. However, sources of hip pain related to inflammation, added joint stress, and irritation from conditions affecting the lower spine are sometimes minimized with changes to diet and exercise habits. When treatment is necessary, conservative remedies are often attempted first. If surgery is necessary, there are a growing number of minimally invasive joint and soft tissue repair procedures that may provide relief.
There are many minimally invasive options for spine surgery, including fusion procedures and various spinal fusion alternatives. Beverly Hills patients who are seeking relief for their chronic pain should call The Spine Institute today at 310-828-7757.