Spinal Stenosis: How is my Hip Pain Coming from my Back?
Many times in medicine there is cross over between conditions when considering symptoms. (A good example is how gallbladder pain can refer to the right scapula.) In this same manner, many times in the spine clinic we see patients complaining of hip pain and we identify a spinal condition responsible for the discomfort.
An important thing to consider is what region of the body you’re referencing when you say you have hip pain. The hip joint itself is in our groin and as such arthritic conditions or labral tears tend to refer pain to the groin region, especially with weight-bearing activities.
If the pain is present on the outer portion of the thigh or the upper-lateral buttock area the cause of the discomfort may be coming from a common spinal condition known as spinal stenosis. Image source: alignfitness.org
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the open spaces within your spine. This narrowing can put pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine.
When this happens the nerves being compressed become dysfunctional and cause symptoms such as pain, weakness or numbness radiating in the upper buttock region or down the legs in various patterns.
In more severe cases paralysis or incontinence could occur.
What are the Causes of Spinal Stenosis?
While some people are born with a narrow spinal canal, most spinal stenosis occurs when something reduces the amount of space available in the spine. This can occur with overgrowth of bone (bone spurs), herniated discs, loss of disc height from degeneration, thickened ligaments, spinal injuries or tumors.
Most individuals who develop spinal stenosis are over the age of 40 unless some genetic disorder is present that causes congenital narrowing of the spinal canal.