Hip osteoarthritis and back pain

Hi all,

For many years I've had occasional debilitating lower back pain usually triggered by me twisting or bending, eg a simple move like twisting to get something from the car back seat. Typically this would happen about once a year, be really painful for three days and take maybe four weeks to fully resolve helped by gentle stretching exercises.

For the past six months I've been unable to walk more than ten minutes whereas I used to enjoy regular ten mile walks. I've been diagnosed as having severe osteoarthritis in my left hip and will be having a hip replacement operation in a few weeks time. I was told that my hip osteoarthritis was a problem that has been developing over many years.

Today I did a little DIY and my back is now really painful. Is it possible that my back is suffering from pain referred from the hip osteoarthritis? Is it possible that the hip replacement operation will help my back problems? Anyone else had or know someone with similar problems?

One new problem is that the exercises I used to do for my back are not really possible now my mobility is restricted due to the hip osteoarthritis.

The report on my hip x-ray says "the sacroiliac joints appear within normal limits."


  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,303

    It’s more likely that the deterioration in your hip has been affecting your posture. I noticed with mine that I had reduced rotation in my torso (eg, like you, turning to look over my shoulder in the car) as this pulled on my hip joint, so you may have been turning from the waist more, which uses different muscles and places more twist in the spine than if you’re rotating from the hip.. It’s only when bits of you don’t work properly that you realise how things are interconnected. But I haven’t experienced, or heard it reported ny others, that OA in hips causes referred pain in the spine.

    Alternatively, it could just be coincidence that your back is playing up at the same time as your hip, have you had it assessed by a physio?

  • Hi RogerBill,

    Thank you for posting on the helpline forum, I am sorry to hear your condition is causing you so much pain. 

    If a person has a problem with their hips, it can cause referred pain which can affect the groin, down the front of the leg and in the knee. Sometimes knee pain is the only sign of a hip problem – this is called referred pain or radiated pain and is common. You may feel pain on the outside of your hip or in your buttock – though this can also be caused by problems with your lower back.

    With all forms of arthritis, it is important to manage the condition, and as Lilymary has said possibly a referral to see a physiotherapist could help with some structured stretching and strengthening exercises, that could help you with you back also.

    Alternatively, if you like going into the pool you could try Hydrotherapy, which is exercising in warm water, this can help get muscles and joints working better and, because the water is warmer than in a normal swimming pool, it can be very soothing and relaxing. Hydrotherapy is sometimes called aquatic therapy.

    I am pleased to hear that you will soon be able to have a hip replacement Rogerbill I really hope it all goes well for you and that you have a speedy recovery.


    Best wishes


    Helpline Advisor

  • Choosey
    Choosey Member Posts: 2

    From my experience my hip, groin and upper thigh pain was originating from my lumbar spine and 2 protruding discs plus I have been told I have mild stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal (all age related). An MRI on my pelvis showed I had age related osteoarthritis in my right hip, mild bursitis and tendinitis. After lots of physio and acupuncture with no results I have finally had quite a good response with treatment from a chiropractor who has now given me a couple of exercises to stretch muscles as well. I intend to continue having this treatment. Perhaps not for everyone but it seems to be working for me.

  • RogerBill
    RogerBill Member Posts: 38

    Thank you all for your comments.

    I've just found https://www.horderhealthcare.co.uk/news-healthy-living/did-you-know-that-lower-back-pain-can-be-caused-by-hip-joint-osteoarthritis/ which includes the following points:

    * Research suggest the incidence of lower back pain accompanying hip arthritis is in the range of 20-40% of cases

    * Reduction in flexibility at the hip impacts surrounding muscle tissue.

    * When turning the ball and socket joint of he hip will contribute only little towards the turn. Often unknown to the individual, the lumbar spine and knees will over contribute and experience additional torsion.

    * When bending forwards the hinging motion of the hip is limited or poorly controlled. The effect of shortening or tightness in muscles over the front of the hip can cause compression of structures such as inter-vertebral discs of the spine, and neighbouring nerves.

    I can relate my back pain to these points. I'm now also experiencing some pain in my abdominalal muscles which I think might be either related to the hip OA or me overdoing some pre-replacement hip operation exercises.

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,303

    interesting stuff, thanks Rogerbill. I was lucky in that my back wasn’t affected, I give it a regular punishing and it rarely retaliates. But my surgeon did mention shortening of muscles in the front of the hip is a common result of OA in that joint, which is one of my main sources of pain when I overdo it now, post op. I suspect if my back wasn’t quite so resilient it may have been affected by this.

  • LizB12
    LizB12 Member Posts: 8

    Thanks so much for this information Rogerbill. I too can relate to it as it explains a little of my lower back pain after a diagnosis of OA in my hips. The physio told me that these areas are all related which has led to inflammation in my sacroiliac joints and sciatica. She told me that it’s important to manage my pain so that I sleep better, which will help.