ZocdocAnswersWhat could cause pain in my lower back, right hip, and right side groin?

Question

What could cause pain in my lower back, right hip, and right side groin?

Two years ago I was in an auto accident, as a result I have arthritis in my lower back and almost daily pain. Three weeks ago my back went out while I was bending down and I was treated in the ER. Since then my lower back pain has increased and I have sharp pains in my right hip and groin and also a pain that shoots down my right leg. My doctor has prescribed pain meds and ordered an MRI that I am waiting for.

Answer

In truth, your question represents a point of particular difficulty in diagnosis among clinicians, that is, the distinction between hip and back pathology. I would recommend that you follow-up with an orthopaedic surgeon spine specialist. Hip and lower back injuries or arthritis can result in "hip" or leg pains. In actuality, your symptoms are likely some combination of hip and lower back pathology. I suspect that your accident and the general wear and tear of time have caused degenerative or arthritic changes in your lower back (spinal column, lumbar) and/or Right hip joint, resulting in your pain patterns. Because the bones of the spinal column represent the structural housing of your spinal cord and the smaller nerves that branch off the spinal cord (like the branches coming off a tree trunk), arthritic changes to the spinal column can pinch any of these exiting nerve branches that are responsible for the feeling and movement of your legs. This often results in pains in the lower back that seem to radiate down the leg (which leg depends on the side that the nerve branches are pinched; in your case, the Right side). Pain can feel dull and aching or electrical and burning. On the other hand, arthritis of the Right hip traditionally feels like deep aching pain of the groin; while this can sometimes feel like radiating down the front of the thigh to the knee, it is usually described as groin pain. Hip arthritis is usually not associated with burning or electrical pains down the leg. In actuality, you may have some combination of hip arthritis and lower lumbar back arthritis (lumbar stenosis), but it sounds like your symptoms are attributed more to lumbar stenosis. Again, I would recommend that you follow-up with an orthopaedic surgeon spine specialist. If your symptoms change or worsen, I would even recommend going to the emergency department.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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