Most Americans suffer from low back pain now and then. An often-overlooked cause is a dysfunctional hip joint (or joints). In our daily lives we spend a lot of time sitting down. We drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home, and then sit on the couch. Then one day you wake up with back pain. The issue usually comes from some simple activity, like walking one day more than usual, or picking up a fallen toothbrush…as a Fort Collins chiropractor most of my patients don’t remember why the pain came about. Let’s talk about something that could potentially be causing these acute low back pain episodes.
Your hip range of motion is vital to the normal function of your low back. Sitting all day, we don’t use them to full capacity. The body will begin to adapt and shorten the available range of motion in your hip. Technically speaking we refer to this as “capsular shortening.”
For example, the hip has a minimum range of motion required for walking; if this is not available due to capsular shortening, the low back tries to “help out.” As the hip joint loses the ability to extend backwards in the normal gait cycle, the low back is forced to hyperextend, putting excess stress on the facet joints in the back of your spine. The facet joints can begin to develop arthritis and stenosis, and irritate the nerves exiting your spine.
If your hip loses flexion, this also forces the low back to flex prematurely in many other normal daily movements. Studies have shown that repeated flexion in the spine can cause annular tears in the intervertebral discs, leading to disc bulges or herniation, which can pinch or irritate the surrounding nerves. This is actually one of the most common causes of low back pain.
Since the normal range of motion of the hip is so important for daily life, it is important to get your hips checked along with the rest of your spine. A chiropractic adjustment to the hip can instantly restore motion to the hip joint, allowing your body to move naturally and without irregular stress on your spine. If this problem has been going on long enough, the lumbar spine may also need to be addressed. In these cases, physical therapy and chiropractic care can be used together can help restore and keep normal motion in the both the hip and spine.
Nathan Herndon, D.C., holds his Doctor of Chiropractic from Palmer College, with a Bachelor of Science from California State University Fullerton. He received his license as a Doctor of Chiropractic in 2015, with certification from National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Dr. Herndon treats patients in Loveland and Fort Collins for chiropractic care.