New York Spine Institute Spine Services

How Spinal Stenosis and Hip Pain Are Related

How spinal stenosis and hip pain are related

How Spinal Stenosis and Hip Pain Are Related

By: Timothy T. Roberts, M.D. FAAOS

Dr. Roberts earned his Doctorate of Medicine from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. He completed his orthopedic residency at Albany Medical College. Dr. Roberts then went on to complete the neurosurgery/orthopaedic spine surgery-combined fellowship at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. Following graduation, Dr. Roberts worked for several years in a large private practice in Florida, but has since returned to his native New York.

Just because pain is coming from your hip does not mean you have a hip-related issue. Instead, the pain could be coming from your back — specifically, from spinal stenosis. Continue reading to learn if this common misdiagnosis is relevant to your situation.

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a back condition where the open spaces in the spine narrow, putting extreme pressure on your nerves. This most often occurs in the lower back and neck.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

Your spinal cord has stacked bones with discs between each vertebra from the tailbone to the skull, protecting the spinal cord in the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis is most often caused by osteoarthritis — or the gradual wearing down of the discs over time. 

Other causes of spinal stenosis can be due to the following:

  • Herniated discs: This condition can happen when a disc between the vertebrae in your back slips, ruptures or bulges, pressing on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Bone spurs: Damage from arthritis can cause extra bone to form on the spine, called bone spurs. These can cause pain by pushing into your nerves.
  • Spondylolisthesis: When a spinal vertebra slips forward over another vertebra, this is known as spondylolisthesis and can add pressure to your spinal cord.
  • Spinal tumor: In rare cases, the irritation of your spinal cord nerves can be caused by a spinal tumor forming inside the canal.

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Early spinal stenosis may not have any symptoms, but they can gradually appear over time. Some symptoms include:

  • Back pain
  • Burning in the buttocks down into the legs — also known as sciatica
  • Loss of sensation in the feet
  • Cramping, tingling or numbness in the legs
  • Foot drop when walking

However, spinal stenosis symptoms are not always related to your back, legs or feet. Instead, you may feel pain in your hip.

Why Hip Pain May Be Spinal Stenosis

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs through the vertebrae and extends to the muscles. When the space narrows — like with spinal stenosis — the nerves being compressed may be related to your hip joint. In this case, the nerves can become dysfunctional and create radiating pain in the hip.

Hip pain from spinal stenosis mainly occurs if there is a complication in the lumbar region of the spine. You can tell if your hip pain is spinal-related if the pain is relieved when sitting down and reoccurs when you continue walking.

Spinal Stenosis Treatment

The early stages of spinal stenosis can be treated with medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like muscle relaxers or acetaminophen. These medications are often paired with physical therapy, which may provide hip pain exercises to help strengthen your back and improve your mobility.

If the primary treatments are unsuccessful, there are surgical solutions. A laminectomy can remove one or more affected vertebrae to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. While this is the most common surgical procedure for spinal stenosis, your doctor will work with you to find the right solution for your situation.

Contact New York Spine Institute for help with spinal stenosis

Contact New York Spine Institute for Help With Spinal Stenosis

If you are experiencing hip pain, it could be related to spinal stenosis. Contact New York Spine Institute for more information on our treatment options.