April 2011

What Causes Hip Pain?

Hip pain is a common problem and it can be confusing because there are many causes.  It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that an appropriate treatment can be directed at the underlying problem.

People who suffer from pain in this area of the hip often believe that the problem is related to their hip joint. That is usually not the case.  Hip pain frequently is caused by a problem in the spine, due to a herniated disc causing sciatica which radiates into the area of the hip.

If you have pain in the hip, some common causes: 

  1. Arthritis – frequent cause of hip pain and almost always creates pain in the groin.
  2. Bursitis – inflammation of the bursa over the outside of the hip is a common cause of pain over the side of the hip.
  3. Lumbar pain – many back and spine problems can cause symptoms around the buttock and hip. The most common problem that refers pain to the hip region is herniated discs and sciatica.

Several Important Facts:

Hip arthritis always causes pain in the groin. If you do not have groin pain, the cause of your pain is usually due to a herniated disc or sciatica.

  1. Pain in the groin can still originate from the back.  Some of the sciatic nerves have branches that run into the groin.
  2. Pain in the buttock or side of the hip is almost always due to sciatica.

Frequently Asked Questions - Hip Pain

1. How do you diagnose whether the pain that I have in my hip is coming from my hip or my back?

Using a continuous x-ray machine we place an anesthetic inside the hip joint. We will then assess the patient over the next ten to fifteen minutes. If they notice that their hip pain is gone we know that the pain is coming from the hip. If the patient still has pain we will use the continuous x-ray machine and place a local anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory on the nerve in the back that goes to the hip. If the hip pain goes away then we know that the hip pain is being “referred” from the back.

2. Is it possible to have problems with both my hip and back at the same time?

Yes, some people experience problems with both areas. A lot of patients find that when we identify the problem area, they actually have pain from both their hip and back areas. However, in most cases, the majority of the pain comes from one specific area—either the hip or back.

3. Will your procedures make my pain go away for a long time?

Yes. A significant number of our patients achieve good relief for a long time. You probably have had hip problems for a long period of time now. The reason why you’re experiencing heightened pain now is probably due to inflammation in the area that is generating the pain. Once the inflammation is gone, the pain probably will not return for a long time.

4. If my MRI is negative, is it still possible that I can have an irritated nerve in my back that is causing the pain?

Yes. An MRI is an indirect image of the spine and does not always show everything. In addition, an MRI usually is taken while you are laying down. Nerves can shift when you change positions, especially if your pain is worse with when you stand or sit. The disk can leak part of its “jelly” center—or nucleus—around the nerves, which can cause significant chemical inflammation and pain. Our procedures can dramatically reduce the pain and inflammation resulting in increased circulation and healing.

5. Will your procedure simply “mask” or hide my pain?

No, the goal of our procedure is to decrease the inflammation. The relief from your pain is achieved when we reduce or eliminate the inflammation.

6. What happens if I need to have this treatment repeated?

These procedures can be repeated up to 2 to 3 times within 12 months. If you require more procedures, then we usually would recommend surgery for your situation. The good news is that our procedure will provide your surgeon with significant information about the exact location of your pain, which will enable a better outcome for your surgery if required.

7. Will this treatment prevent me from having to have an operation?

In many cases, it can prevent a patient from having to undergo an operation. Many people who have this procedure have sustained relief and studies confirm this.However, if you still have pain and require surgery, our procedure will provide your surgeon with information about the exact location of your pain, which will enable a better outcome for your surgery if required.

For further information please go to  In the conditions section you may want to view the videos under hip pain, which are hip arthritis and lumbar radiculopathy (sciatica).