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Is My Pain Coming From My Hip or Back?

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

hip pain, hip joint pain, hip pain relief
Is My Pain Coming From My Hip or Back?

The hip has a close relationship with the back and often our hip pain and loss of movement that is felt in our hip could actually be coming from pain in our lower back. When patients come to our clinic in Wyckoff, NJ with hip joint concerns we always begin with a lower back assessment. Sometimes it is hard for patients to accept that this can be a lower back problem, especially if they have an MRI confirming a labral tear or other pathology. However, regardless of MRI findings in the hip, more times than not, we find that it was the lower back causing their issues. This is also why so many of their past treatments have been unsuccessful.

So how do we figure out if it is a hip or back problem?

The three questions we begin with are:

  1. Is there any back pain that is on the same side as the hip pain?

  2. If you cough or sneeze does it intensify your hip or back pain?

  3. Is there any numbness, or weakness in your knee or foot on the same side as your hip joint pain?

If YES was answered to any of these questions then most likely the pain is coming from your lower back.

If NO was answered to any of these questions then keep reading to learn about pain location and behavior.

Next, to determine if the pain is coming from the lower back or hip we must look at

  1. Pain location

  2. Pain behavior

Pain Location

Pain that originates in the hip is often felt in the front of the joint or groin and you might feel some stiffness. The hip pain may be felt down the thigh and even close to the knee.

Pain caused by the hip

However, it is not likely that that hip pain should be felt in the back of the hip or up into the lower back. Back pain could also be felt down towards the knee or foot. If you are having hip problems, you should not feel pins and needles or any numbness in the foot or leg, which is a sign of low back problems.

NOT caused by the hip

NOT caused by the hip

This quick video will help clarify further:

Pain Behavior

Hip pain often starts by aggravating your hip and leg while moving it during walking or rotating/moving the hip sideways like when getting in and out of bed.

We also use the following simple tests with our Wyckoff, NJ patients to see if their lower back is causing their 'hip' pain. You can try them right now!

Try this out:

Sit on a stool and completely slouch your body for 30 seconds (Photo 1). Pay close attention to pain location and change in intensity. Then sit upright with a curve in your back to be in the perfect sitting position (Photo 2).

Slouched Posture - Photo 1
Upright Posture - Photo 2

If these positions had no impact on your pain levels, then it is likely that the pain is originating from your hip. However, if you did experience a change in pain location and intensity during these lower back positions then the origination of your pain may be from your lower back. I hope that helped give you some clarity on how to figure out if your 'hip pain' is really hip pain, OR if it's coming from your back.

Are you tired of your back pain or sciatica controlling your life?

Check out our next webinar!

Sick of not being able to do what you used to?

Want Answers Today?

Thank you for reading and feel free to take a look around our website, there is plenty of information, free guides, and ways to reach out to us about hip and back pain.

If you have further questions regarding this blog post or other tips that can help you to relieve Hip Pain, Contact Us at Skyline Physical Therapy located in Wyckoff, NJ. or

Call (201) 485-6114

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