Whenever you're having lower back and hip pain, the more you can learn about the cause of your pain, the better equipped you'll be.
Learning about the causes and understanding the treatments allows you to become more involved in the decisions regarding your own care.
"the two are completely unrelated"
Lower back and hip pain often occurs together, and it can be quite difficult to determine which conditions are causing which symptoms. Lower back pain can cause hip pain, and hip pain can cause lower back pain.
Another obvious possibility is that you may have arthritis or other conditions in your back causing back pain, and arthritis or other conditions in your hip causing hip pain, and the two are completely unrelated.
"looking at your history"
You can begin to sort this out by looking at your history.
When did your back pain start? What were you doing then?
When did your hip pain start? What were you doing then?
Have there been any accidents? Any falls? Any car wrecks?
Have you been spending too much time in the garden?
What about other hobbies or chores that require an excessive amount of bending and lifting?
"you can begin treating yourself"
If you can relate your lower back and hip pain to any specific activity you can begin treating yourself by avoiding that activity. Hire someone to help in the garden, or to help you work on the house, or just leave things undone.
Many times people cause themselves unnecessary pain and suffering doing things that don't really need to be done. You probably won't starve to death if the garden doesn't get put in, and it will not be the end of the world if the house doesn't get painted.
"to prevent another flare up of your symptoms"
After some rest. when your pain has resolved, you can return to doing the things that you enjoy. When you do return to working in the garden or painting the house and doing all of your other activities, be careful to start off slowly and in progress things a little at a time to prevent another flare up of your lower back and hip pain.
When your lower back and hip pain develops more gradually it can be more difficult to know what to do. If your pain is not severe, and it doesn't prevent normal activities, you're probably safe just giving it some time.
You could try some over the counter pain medications, and just be careful about your activities. You should avoid bending and lifting, and anything else that causes increased pain.
"determine what is causing your pain"
When your lower back and hip pain develops gradually, and it gets to the point in that it prevents you from doing normal activities, you need to make an appointment with your doctor. He can take a complete history, and do a physical exam, then order the appropriate tests to determine what is causing your pain.
"radiates into your hip, buttock, and thigh"
Spinal stenosis can cause back pain that radiates into your hip, buttock, and thigh. The pain can reach into your lower leg and foot; this may cause weakness in the leg as well.
Piriformis syndrome can cause sciatica, with pain into the buttock and thigh, along with back pain. This can occur when the piriformis muscle becomes short and tight putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.
"usually begins as hip pain"
Trochanteric bursitis can cause lower back and hip pain because it affects the way you walk. The trochanteric bursa is a cushion over the point of your hip that allows the muscles to slide smoothly when you walk.
Trochanteric bursitis usually begins as hip pain. When the bursa becomes inflamed it causes pain with every step. You can soon develop back pain because you're not walking normally.
"lower back and hip pain are unrelated"
It is also possible that your lower back and hip pain are unrelated. Arthritis of the spine and other conditions such as spondylolisthesis or a fracture can cause back pain unrelated to the hip. If you have a similar condition such as arthritis in your hip, this can cause hip pain unrelated to your back.
If your doctor thinks you may have a fracture or spinal stenosis he may need to order imaging studies such as an x-ray, MRI, or a CT myelogram to complete his evaluation. After the diagnosis has been determined you can discuss treatment options.
If there is point tenderness on the side of your hip your doctor may suggest a steroid injection for trochanteric bursitis. Other treatment options may include epidural steroid injections, hip replacement, or back surgery depending on what your doctor thinks is causing your pain.
"over the counter pain medication and several days rest"
If your pain is only annoying and does not prevent normal activities you could try some over the counter pain medication and several days rest. If this fails to relieve your symptoms, or if your symptoms are more severe, you need to be evaluated by your doctor.
The sooner you see your doctor and find out what is causing your pain the sooner you can return to enjoying your life.