My Hip Hurts . . . Or Is It My Back?

When a patient presents to a doctor with a complaint of pain, the first question is “where?”  While it may seem that the answer would be obvious, it can actually be difficult for patients experiencing low back, groin, thigh and even knee pain to determine where the pain begins as opposed to where it is radiating too.  An example is arthritis of the hip which can cause pressure on the lower back.

At times, this difficulty extends to the doctor as well.  Is the origin of pain in the hip, spine or both?

“Similar or overlapping symptoms may delay a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment,” explains Afshin Razi, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases.  In February of this year, the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) published an article outlining the symptoms that lead to this confusion and discussed methods to obtain an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

The first step is a detailed patient health history and comprehensive physical examination.  In cases such as the low back/hip pain, tests such as assessment of gait, hip and back range of motion; posture; pelvic, lower limb, and spinal alignment; loss of muscle (atrophy); previous surgical scars; and limb-length discrepancy may be required to help determine an accurate diagnosis.

Imaging studies may also be used to verify the diagnosis.  By looking at both the spine and hip as the possible source of pain, the physician is more likely to deduce an accurate diagnosis, thereby leading to an appropriate treatment plan.

Your chiropractor is trained in how to use these and other diagnostic tests to properly evaluate and treat both hip and spinal pain.  Many are able to do necessary x-rays in the office, reducing the need for multiple visits and co-pays.

Contact your local chiropractor for a consult regarding your hip and/or back pain today and get on the road to recovery.  Don’t have a chiropractor already?  You can find one near your home or work at

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Is the pain coming from your hip, spine or both? New article looks at the overlapping symptoms and challenges in correctly diagnosing ‘hip-spine syndrome’.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2017. <>.