Can Lower Back Pain Be Related to Hip or Leg Pain

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We all know the nursery rhyme about the hip bone being connected to the leg bone. It’s a simple song, but it contains a surprising amount of truth. The fact is that the body’s muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems truly are complex and intricately interconnected. Even a daily task such as walking down the street uses a complete network of a body’s muscles and bones, all of them reliant on each other. And when a strain, tear, or other injury happens in one part of your body, pain can often present itself in an entirely different part of your body.

If you suffer from both hip pain or leg pain, its possible that is all connected to your lower back. This is good news - by treating your lower back, you can help the other parts of your body. Read on to find out what you can do to help alleviate the symptoms of lower back pain.

The link between hip or leg pain and lower back pain

The main reason that lower back pain radiates downwards is due to a large group of nerves, collectively called the sciatic nerve. These emanate from the lower back, run down the buttock and the back of the thigh, and provide the main nervous link between the spine, hips, and legs.

When the sciatic nerve is damaged or stressed, or the lower back pain is in close proximity to the sciatic nerve, the pain will travel all along the nerve. This is known as sciatica. Sufferers often assume that this pain is originating in the hips or legs, when in fact it is merely a symptom of problems in the lower back. This pain is often:

  • A tingling, sharp, or burning pain in the legs, instead of a dull ache
  • Worse when sitting
  • Usually only in one leg or side of the buttocks is affected
  • Characterised by a difficulty or weakness when moving the leg or hip

Common causes of lower back pain

In order to treat this hip and leg pain, it is important to understand the causes of lower back pain. Amongst people below the age of 60, the most common cause of sciatica is a slipped or herniated disc, in the lower lumbar region of the spine. When a disc is swollen or has moved, it puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing discomfort and pain. This tends not to happen instantly, but instead generally develops over time. Other causes include:

  • Muscle spasm or strain, from repetitive or sharp movements
  • Impact injury to bones, from sports or accidents
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoarthritis

Relieving lower back pain

If the symptoms of lower back pain are severe, result from significant trauma, or are accompanied by fever or chills, we recommend that you consult your doctor to organise scans or treatment. However, in most cases, or as part of an approved treatment plan, there are a number of steps you can take to relieve the pain.

Strap it up

In cases of strains, tears, and other injuries, strapping or taping your lower back will provide the extra support it needs. Alternatively, for extra support, try the Elastoplast back brace. This will not only promote the natural shape of your lower back during exercise or daily life, but also limit any extra strain placed on your back. For tips on how to apply strapping and tape effectively, see our section on tape and strapping preparation.

Get active

Correct posture and a protected spine requires strong muscles, and strong muscles require exercise. Rather than sit around waiting for lower back pain to fix itself, keeping active and exercising regularly can actually help it recover and stay in shape much more quickly. Not only that, regular exercise will help you lose weight which, in turn, will take pressure off your legs, hips, and back.

If you need some exercises to get you started, head over to our video library of joint and back pain exercises.

Apply heat (or coldness)

For nerve and muscle inflammations, applying a hot or cold pack, or heat gel, can be a great way to instantly soothe the affected area.