The Difference Between Hip Pain and Pelvic Pain – and Their Treatments

Apr 22, 2021
The hip and the pelvis are separate parts of the body. It is understandable that one might mix them up, after all they are in the same general area. But diagnosing and treating pain requires correctly identifying where the pain originates from.

Hip Pain and Pelvic Pain

The hip and the pelvis are separate parts of the body. It is understandable that one might mix them up, after all they are in the same general area. But diagnosing and treating pain requires correctly identifying where the pain originates from. This is essential in accurately determining the cause of the pain and possible ways to alleviate, manage or treat it. Under the leadership of interventional pain management specialist I. Michael Minehart, M.D., the Advanced Pain Institute in Arcadia and Encino, California offers a variety of treatments for both pelvic and hip pain. 

Hip vs. Pelvis

The main difference between the hip and the pelvis is that the former is on the top and side of the thigh, beside the pelvis. The hip is the lateral region of each side of the lower body, where the upper femur connects, forming the synovial joints. The pelvis, on the other hand, is near the base of the spine – forming the lower part of the lower torso between the abdomen and the upper thighs. It encompasses the sacrum and coccyx, or the tail bone, and on its side are the hip bones: the ilium, ischium and pubis.

Basically, the difference between hip pain and pelvic pain depend on which region the pain originates from. But there can be a variety of causes for hip and pelvic pain. 

Hip Pain Explained

Mild hip pain might be something that one can bear, while severe hip pain might prevent an individual from sitting, standing, walking or running the way they normally do. 

The most common cause of acute hip pain includes inflamed tendons or tendonitis due to excessive exercising. This can be quite painful but heals within a few days. In the case of long-term hip pain, arthritis is the most common cause. The different types of arthritis include: 

Osteoarthritis: due to age-related wear and tear of cartilage surrounding the joints.

Joint trauma: such as fractures that may then cause traumatic arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Infectious arthritis: where an infection of the joints causes the destruction of cartilage.

Rheumatoid arthritis: when the body’s own immune system attacks the joints. This type of arthritis may eventually destroy joint cartilage and bones.

Hip pain treatment can involve surgery to repair problems in the joints themselves, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment to promote healing in osteoarthritic joints, ketamine infusion to relieve pain, physical therapy to compliment these treatments, and alternative or holistic therapies. 

Referred Hip Pain

Dr. Minehart has also seen some of the more complex hip pains that do not originate in the hip itself. These are known as referred pains that require a complete understanding of what exactly could be causing them. 

When surgery is out of the question, physical therapy has not helped, and the patient is tired of taking pills, the etiology of the condition has been completely missed. But Dr. Minehart strives to figure out what is behind the pain – because he knows the patient’s pain is real and is not just in their head. For those hip pains of unknown cause, Dr. Minehart will get to the bottom of it and find the most effective treatment options.

The Basics of Pelvic Pain 

In the case of pelvic pain, it may be difficult to diagnose since chronic pelvic pain sufferers may have associated gastrointestinal issues. The cervix, uterus, ovaries, and lower portions of the gastrointestinal tract have the same nerve paths. Female pelvic pain patients should first see a gynecologist and all male pelvic pain patients should first see a urologist.

Differential diagnosis may be confusing. For example, a patient suffering from irritable bowel syndrome could easily have referred pain to the pelvic region. To complicate matters, some health care members may not be trained in various diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that can be offered by a skilled interventional pain physician such as Dr. Minehart.

This is where the skills of specialists in diagnosing and treating pain come in. With his expertise, Dr. Minehart can diagnose the cause of the pain and then formulate treatment and management plans tailored to each patient’s individual requirements to produce optimal results.

Post-Hysterectomy Pelvic Pain

Despite thousands and thousands of hysterectomies being performed for pelvic pain, many times the patient will begin to experience the same pain 4-6 months after the surgical intervention. 

Based on his research and experience, Dr. Minehart suspects sympathetic nerves are involved with some of the most difficult pelvic pain patients. These require a well performed sympathetic block to prove the etiology that patients are suffering from sympathetic mediated pain. Those patients may also benefit from spinal cord stimulator or neuromodulation

Wrap Up

With this basic rundown of hip pain and pelvic pain, the differences between both and how they can be addressed by Dr. Minehart at the Advanced Pain Institute, it is hoped that patients will have an improved understanding of the subjects, helping them make more informed choices should they require treatment. 

For those experiencing hip or pelvic pain, and seeking pain treatment in the Arcadia and Encino, California areas, contact Advanced Pain Institute now!