Hip pain and loss of motion from osteoarthritis (OA) often causes changes in the way people stand and walk. A secondary effect of this is back pain. The condition is known as hip-spine syndrome.
Hip-spine syndrome was first described in 1983. Most orthopedic surgeons are well aware of this phenomenon. Patients who have both hip osteoarthritis and low back pain (LBP) are treated first for the hip problem.
A small study of 25 patients showing the link between hip OA and LBP has been published. The patients reported significant improvement in back pain after a total hip replacement.
The authors took spinal X-rays before and after hip surgery. They hoped to be able to show changes in the spine to account for the improved pain and function after surgery. They were surprised that the X-rays were the same before and after the hip replacement.
More study is needed to fully understand the hip-spine syndrome. For now, we know this is a real condition, and it does get better after hip replacement. That's good news for many older adults who suffer both hip and back pain.