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Causes of Lower Back and Hip Pain

Causes of Lower Back and Hip Pain

With the rising demands of our increasingly hectic lifestyle, lower back and hip pain has become a common complaint. The treatment of such ailments is deeply inter-related to various causes which we all need to know and understand.
Paramita Ghosh
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
A large number of American adults suffer from acute lower back and hip pain, which can make their daily lives miserable. Not only does this affect their daily schedule, but it also might lead to serious consequences, leading to complicated, chronic bone or nerve problems. The key to correct the pain is to first figure out the root cause and then treat it accordingly. Back pain is caused by several reasons, and isolating the one responsible is very important.
Pain in the lower back is, in itself, an unpleasant experience, to say the very least. When it is accompanied by an aching hip, though, it can be truly awful. Unfortunately these two troubles often go hand in hand. Though this pain is often associated with aging, it can occur at practically any age, depending on the contributing factors.
Primary Causes
Inflammation, misalignment of the joints and muscle tightness or weakness are some of the primary aspects that cause back pain. Often, these conditions are created due to a strain or injury to the lower vertebrae.
» One of the major causes for back pain is overexertion. Heavy activity, especially without having given the muscles enough time to warm up, results in strained and sore muscles. The soreness usually reduces after a few days.
» Damage to intervertebral discs, which are located between the vertebrae and act as shock absorber to the bones, can lead to severe pain.
  • Due to aging, the disc can tear. However, the pain induced in this case varies; some people do not feel any pain, whereas for some, it can be crippling.
  • Degeneration of the intervertebral discs due to aging can also cause vertebral bones to come in contact with each other. The friction between the bones can be very painful.
  • Intervertebral discs have a soft, jelly-like core, called the nucleus pulposus, enclosed by a tough external shell, called the annulus fibrosus. If the annulus fibrosus is weakened, it allows the nucleus pulposus to come in contact, or even push the nerves, causing pain.

Postural distortions or continued application of unhealthy postures can lead to chronic spine issues.
» Various types of arthritis can cause varying amounts of pain. Arthritic adults can also develop scoliosis, which creates an abnormal curve in the spine. It can be quite painful and, if the nerves get affected, can spread to the legs. Scoliosis is also prominent in developing children.
» The hip joint has a fixed amount of fluid, which facilitates the movements of the femur head (knee). Any extra liquid entering the hip cavity would cause it to swell, causing pain.
» Wear and tear of the cartilaginous covering of the hip bones can leave the bones exposed. Any impact then can cause a considerable amount of pain.
» Many conditions leading to back/hip pains can be genetically inherited.
Aggravating Factors
Certain conditions may aggravate the chances of lower back and hip pain. Pregnancy, excess stress, continual stooping or bending, smoking, aging, diseases or pelvic infection, fracture, oxygen deficiency, osteoporosis, serious illnesses (such as kidney stones, tuberculosis, ovarian cysts, etc.), obesity, etc., are some of them. Although all these factors may not directly cause spinal damage, they weaken the bones and thus leave them prone to damage.
Types of Pain
Clinically, lower back and hip pains are classified under three categories, namely, acute, subacute and chronic.
  • Acute pain is caused due to excessive use of the back muscles or due to trauma, i.e., accidental injuries. This kind of pain follows a sudden movement of muscles. In cases of acute pain, usually soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, etc., are damaged. Some of the common symptoms of acute pain include lack of adequate sleep, stiffness, finding difficulty in walking, constipation, etc.
  • Patients suffering from subacute pain might require a few weeks to return to their normal lifestyle.
  • As the name suggests, chronic pain lasts for a longer period of time and, in some cases, the patient might never fully recover, but only be able to keep it in check through exercise or medication. Conditions such as slipped disc, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and vertebral fracture might lead to chronic pain.
Symptoms
While mild backaches are relatively common, do not show any major symptoms and rarely extend beyond a few days, more serious spinal maladies are typically characterized by sudden fevers with back pain along with night sweat, pain in the upper spinal region (below the neck), unyielding, persistent pain, etc. Any structural disorder in the feet or joints and presence of cancer or HIV can also be relevant aspects while diagnosing pain in the lower back and hip.
Treatment
Lying down rather than sitting/standing eases the pain, since due to the shift in the gravitational center of our body, our spine is no longer subjected to the longitudinal pressure of the body. Home remedies such as massage and application of ointment would help alleviate the pain, but considering the vital role played by the spinal cord in the sustenance of the human body, it is always advisable to consult your doctor if you experience any prolonged pain in that region. Depending on the patient's age and the root cause of the pain, different types of treatments are employed to cure this pain. While some causes can be treated and contained with yoga, chiropractic treatment or Oriental methods such as massage, acupressure, etc., allopathic/homeopathic medication or even surgery may be required for some. Stretching exercises and physical therapy along with adequate rest can be very useful for certain conditions, whereas in some cases the patient might need to opt for surgical solutions.
Proper diagnosis and treatment of lower back and hip pain can only happen once the root cause is identified. Therefore, it is essential to consult a specialist immediately if the pain persists for an unusual period of time.