Confused about hip vs SI pain? Not everyone has taken an anatomy class in their life. Some people are incredibly knowledgeable about their bodies, and others don’t know an elbow from an oboe. In this post, we will help differentiate between true hip pain and sacroiliac (SI) pain. The two structures are close together and share some of the same pain referral patterns, but there are some ways you can help tell the difference between the two. Of course, you should be examined by a chiropractor to help nail down the exact cause of your discomfort, but it doesn’t help to be able to point them in more of the right direction!

So what’s the difference between Hip vs SI Joint Pain?

It can be confusing when trying to figure out hip vs SI joint pain.  As we explained in a previous blog, the SI joint is the connection between the sacrum (tail bone area) and your pelvis. These joints primarily move forward and backward at an angle and help your pelvis rotate and move when you sit, stand, bend over, and lift. The easiest way to locate them is to find the “back dimple” area on yourself. You’ll be able to feel them on both sides of your low back.

Do you know where your true hips are? When you put your hands on your hips, you’re actually on the crest of the hips. The real hip is below that a couple of inches and can primarily be felt best from the side of the leg right where you can palpate movement when you lift your leg to your chest.

How do I tell Hip vs SI Joint Pain?

Unfortunately, it’s not cut and dry, telling the difference between hip vs SI joint pain. The two joints share similar and sometimes overlapping dermatomal regions (areas of skin that are supplied by the same nerve). The corresponding areas make it especially hard to differentiate from a person with no training just based on feel. That is why we here at Express Chiropractic of Frisco use more than just patient perception.

Range of motion, posture, palpation, and orthopedic tests all help your chiropractor discern where the discomfort is originating. Most of those are impossible to do untrained or alone, which is why we will be going over the things you can do at home to try and nail down the source.

SI joint pain characteristics

SI joint dysfunction usually manifests as discomfort in the low back that can either be focused on one side or felt like a thick band across both sides. Bending backward at the waist usually aggravates the SI joint as this compresses the joint even more.

Something usually associated with SI dysfunction, a tight iliopsoas (hip flexor), can also be affecting the joint. Hip flexor tightness will typically manifest as groin discomfort, having a hard time standing up straight after bending at the waist, and even standing up out of a sitting position.

Hip joint pain characteristics

Hip dysfunction usually manifests when you can have isolated movement of the hip without moving the low back and still feel the discomfort. Usual pain characteristics have the discomfort being more deep into the actual hip rather than manifesting in the low back. Having trouble bringing the hip up towards the ceiling while lying on your back or moving your straight leg out away from you to the side in the same position could provoke actual hip complaints.

The muscle that can go hand-in-hand with hip dysfunction is the TFL or tensor fascia latae. If this muscle is angry, you can feel discomfort going down the leg to the knee and making specific movements like lateral leg raises up in the air from a side-lying position.

For more information on hip pain check out another chiropractor here and for the SI joint check out our previous blog here!

Well, that’s it, I’ve figured it out!

As mentioned above, it’s not that simple. Multiple muscles can be involved in the dysfunction of either of the joints. There can be compensation or overworking of certain joints that are causing discomfort when in actuality, it is a different joint not functioning correctly in the first place, causing this to occur. There are multiple pain patterns, nontypical symptoms and much more to dig through to get to the bottom of the issue. It is still essential to be checked out by a chiropractor to be able to get down to the exact cause of your pain. Luckily, we know a couple of people in the area that will be there to help you.

Express Chiropractic of Frisco will help you get back to doing what you love to do as quickly as possible by finding the cause of your aches and pains. On your first visit, you will receive a consultation, history, exam, adjustment (if warranted), and a 10-minute massage by our licensed massage therapist! We even have a certificate for $10 off your first visit to help you start your journey with us. We hope to see you soon and hope you learned something today!