How sciatica and hip pain are related

Hip pain is one of the issues that many patients with sciatica experience. Sciatica is a term for the symptoms resulting from compression of the sciatic nerve, which is very often caused by a spine condition like a herniated disc. This nerve exits the lumbar (lower) spine and travels through the hips, buttocks and both legs, enabling movement and sensation for much of the lower body.

The shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness that result from interference of this nerve can have a crippling effect on your life, especially when it is causing hip pain. Everyday tasks that were once simple — even being able to take your dog for a walk — can become so painful that many give up on them altogether. To start to get the treatment you need to return to normal activity, it is important to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. This can ensure that your hip pain is sciatica-related and not due to another cause, such as arthritis.

How do doctors diagnose sciatica and hip pain?

When you see a doctor to diagnose the cause of your hip pain he or she will generally begin with a review of your medical history and a discussion of symptoms. To determine if pain in the hips is sciatica-related a doctor will ask if it is accompanied by other symptoms like weakness in the legs, numbness in the toes and burning pain that travels along the length of the sciatic nerve. A doctor or other medical professional can also use the following diagnostic measures:

  • A full physical examination, including specific movement tests to isolate symptoms
  • Selective nerve root blocks that can numb a specific nerve to see if a symptom, like hip pain, is still present
  • Diagnostic imagery like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan can determine if there is sciatic nerve compression in the spine.

Upon diagnosing the cause of symptoms, you and your doctor can then work together to come up with a treatment plan, which usually begins with a course of conservative, nonsurgical treatment.

When to consider surgery

In many cases, hip pain and other symptoms associated with sciatica can be managed with physical therapy, medication, rest and other forms of conservative treatment. If symptoms persist after several weeks or months, surgery might be recommended. Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive spine surgery, which uses a muscle-sparing less than 1-inch incision to access the spine and decompress an affected nerve. This leads to a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication, like infection and scarring, compared to traditional open spine surgery.

To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.

Browse Related Resources