Hip pain can be bothersome and disrupt our day to day living. You may have gone on YouTube to look up the best hip stretches and tried them, but your pain has still persisted. You could do every hip stretch known to mankind, but that nagging pain won’t go away. That is because this pain may not derive from your hip. Hip pain, often times, originates from our low back.

Where Is The Pain Coming From?
All of the nerves that supply your lower body come from your low back. The nerves branch off from different levels of your spinal cord and go through specific passages between your vertebrae (back bones). These nerves branch off into smaller nerves and these nerves branch into smaller nerves until every millimeter of the body has a nerve that supplies it with feeling and strength.A dermatome is the specific pattern that each of the nerves that come from your spinal cord follow. In your low back they are listed out from L1-L5 and S1-S5. These letters and numbers signal where the nerves come from-L is your lumbar spine (you have 5 lumbar vertebrae) and S for sacrum (You have 5 fused sacral vertebrae).  The specific areas these patterns follow can be visualized on the image below.
Specific to hip pain, the L1 and L2 distributions are typical areas where patients describe their pain path. Patients say they have pain that wraps around their waist and to the front of their hip(s) and they assume the pain is from the hip joint or tight muscles in that area. Based on our knowledge of anatomy we can now make the assumption that this pain stems from the low back where the nerve originates from and NOT their hip joint.
Prove It!

The table below is from a study used to investigate the proportion of patients that present with extremity pain who have a spinal source of symptoms and evaluate the response to spinal treatment.  Essentially, this study found people with specific pain in different areas of their body EXCLUDING the spine and performed spinal treatment on them.  The clinicians in the study performed specific movements on the patient’s spinal areas to see the cause and effect.

Based on the highlighted line, it was determined that 71% of the participants in the study had decreased hip pain with specific movements applied to their low back.  What this chart tells us is that when we feel pain anywhere in our body, not associated with specific trauma, always rule out the spine first.  So…are you sure it is your hip that hurts?