Is My Hip Pain Nerve Pain (Neuralgia or Radicular Pain)?
Different Sources of Nerve Pain
Nerve pain is created within the nervous system, a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages between the brain and spinal cord and your body. It is through this system that we feel, move and control our bodily functions.
Nerve roots leave the spinal cord via the intervertebral foramina (holes or spaces between the vertebrae) and join together from various levels of the spine to travel as cord-like structures, called nerves, to their destinations.
It is these nerves that travel outside the spinal cord that are referred to as “peripheral nerves”. Some peripheral nerves travel only a short distance and others all the way from the lower back to the foot. Along their journey they run between and through muscles and fibrous tunnels.
While “radicular pain” arises from a problem as the nerve root exits the spine, nerve-related pain may develop due to a problem along the pathway of a peripheral nerve, outside the spine. Pain related to a nerve is called “Neuralgia”.
Neuralgia felt around the hip and pelvis may develop in many ways including excessive compression or stretch of the nerve. This may be caused by a sudden, acute mechanism, for example a fall or blow to the area resulting in compression, or the leg being caught and wrenched, resulting in stretch. Alternatively, the onset may be subtle, with a gradual onset associated with sustained postures or repetitive movements that cause cumulative nerve irritation. Nerves will also be influenced by the health of the tissues they run through or alongside. For example, high muscle tension or tendinopathy may over time result in irritation of neighbouring nerves.
Nerve Pain Symptoms
Nerve related symptoms are usually experienced differently from pain associated with muscle and joint problems.
Peripheral nerve irritability may result in:
- symptoms in the area served by that peripheral nerve (which is different from dermatomal patterns associated with nerve root irritation – radicular pain)
- burning pain
- odd zings or zaps of pain
- tingly sensations or numbness
- weakness – only for those nerves that supply muscles, like the femoral nerve
Be aware that some nerves may cross through and supply more than one region. Additionally, some areas of skin may have several nerves that serve the area. This sometimes makes accurate diagnosis tricky. Your Hip Pain Professional will help to identify the cause of your pain.
How a Hip Pain Professional can Help
Your Hip Pain Professional can:
- perform a thorough assessment to help identify the cause of your pain
- provide or refer you for rehabilitation
- provide important information about managing nerve related pain
- address muscular or biomechanical issues that may be contributing to nerve -related
- provide or refer you for medication or injections, as appropriate
- refer you for or provide a specialist medical opinion, if the symptoms are not settling as expected
This blog was written by Dr Alison Grimaldi and Kirsty McNab, physiotherapists who have over 50 years of combined professional clinical experience, dealing with patients suffering from a wide range of hip and pelvic conditions.
Dr. Alison Grimaldi BPhty, MPhty(Sports), PhD is Practice Principal of Physiotec Physiotherapy, an Australian Sports Physiotherapist and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, author and global educator.
Kirsty McNab BSc Hons, MPhty(Sports), is Practice Principal of Physiologix and a highly experienced Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist having worked extensively with elite athletes, the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, and Tennis Australia.
Check Out More You Can Read on this Area at HipPainHelp:
Understanding the Hip Joint Anatomy and Hip Joint Related Pain: What are the structures that make up the hip joint and how may they be involved with pain.
Understanding Pain: What is Pain: pain is an output of the brain. What makes up this output can be rather complex. LEarn more in this blog
Hip Pain Explained: Go to the “peripheral nerve” tab and read more about the nerves through the hip and pelvis that can cause pain in this region.
Hip Pain Explained: Go to the “back related” tab and read more about radicular pain (from the back) around the hip and pelvis
Make sure you check out our next blog looking at “sciatica”, “piriformis syndrome” and “deep gluteal syndrome” and their relationship with buttock, hip and leg pain.