The Hidden Cause of Lower Back Pain

Having treated thousands of patients with low back pain over the years, I have found a common thread in virtually every case: tight hips.

I have also found that one of the keys to curing and preventing recurrence is to get the hips moving better and to keep them this way. The hip joint is one of the biggest joints in the human body. It is a large ball and socket joint that is designed for flexibility in all three planes of movement. The hip joint is also surrounded by large and powerful muscles: the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, adductor group and hamstrings. Clearly, the hips are meant to be the workhorses of the lower body. All full body athletic maneuvers rely on unrestricted hip mobility. Swinging a golf club, baseball bat or tennis racket are all hip dominant motions that derive their power from the hips.

On the other hand, the low back, or lumbar spine, is designed for stability….not mobility. Unlike the large ball and socket joints of the hips, the lumbar spine is comprised of small, intricate joint structures. The muscles around the lumbar spine are designed to restrict motion. The four layers of abdominals, multifidi, diaphragm and pelvic floor musculature all work together to create a muscular corset around the lower back to create stability and prevent movement. Now, when the body lacks hip mobility, it is going to find a way to compensate in order to accomplish the task at hand.

Ultimately, the movement that cannot be accomplished at the hips will get transmitted to the low back. So, instead of the big and powerful hip joints/musculature doing the brunt of the work, there are energy leaks that transmit forces to the sensitive structures in the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint. Over time this leads to wear and tear, inflammation, and, ultimately, structural damage. Thus, I can confidently say that many cases of disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and arthritis, were originally caused by dysfunctional hip mobility….a condition that can be easily treated and prevented with physical therapy.

Move. Perform. Excel.

Dr. Dan