The hip is a common site for nerve pain to develop when a degenerative condition begins to affect the lower back. This is because of the hip’s proximity to the sciatic nerve, which originates in the lumbosacral region of the spine and is the largest and widest nerve in the body. As the sciatic nerve begins its descent down the length of the leg, it passes through an opening in the pelvis known as the sciatic notch, which is adjacent to a muscle called the piriformis. Nerve compression can occur if the piriformis muscle becomes inflamed, “pinching” the sciatic nerve. This is known as piriformis syndrome and is more common among women than men, although competitive runners of either gender are susceptible.
Other causes of hip nerve pain
Piriformis syndrome produces lower back pain or radiculopathic symptoms that are similar to sciatica. However, sciatic nerve impingement caused by inflammation of the piriformis muscle is not quite the same as true sciatica, in which a degenerative condition within the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine leads to compression of a nerve root as it exits the spinal cord. The degenerative conditions that can cause sciatica include:
- Spinal arthritis – degeneration of facet joints, where vertebrae meet and articulate
- Osteophytes – bone spurs caused by spinal osteoarthritis
- Bulging disc – protrusion of a section of the outer wall of an intervertebral disc beyond its normal boundary
- Herniated disc – extrusion of the gel-like nucleus material of an intervertebral disc through a tear or crack in the disc’s outer wall
- Spondylolisthesis – slippage of one vertebra over another, either because of traumatic injury or degeneration
Treating hip nerve pain
The symptoms associated with sciatica, including debilitating hip pain, typically can be managed using pain medication, exercise, stretching, and other conservative treatment methods. However, if chronic hip nerve pain persists after several weeks of conservative treatment, surgery may become an option. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the many benefits of a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using advanced technology. Our orthopedic specialists have helped tens of thousands of patients find relief from neck and back pain.