Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine



I went to see a physical therapist about my hip pain. It felt like I was having a charley horse in the front of my hip. The therapist did some tests and gave me some press-up exercises for my back. My hip pain went away right away. How can doing back exercises affect the hip that way?


In the musculoskeletal part of the body, it's not uncommon for a problem in one area to refer pain to another area nearby. Usually the nerve supplying the problem area also controls the site of the referred pain. Because the nerve affects more than one body part, messages via the nervous system don't always get interpreted correctly.

Doctors and therapists know that when a patient presents with pain in any of the joints that they must consider the joint above and the joint below the painful one as a possible source of referred pain. In the case of the hip, this means checking the low back area and the knee as possible sources of the real problem.

Press-up (extension) exercises are often used in people with disc-related or nonspecific low back pain. Nonspecific means the cause of the problem is unknown. In many cases, the patient history and results of some simple screening tests point to the real problem area.

Press-ups to improve lumbar extension often reduce low back pain. These exercises can also eliminate hip pain when the true cause of the pain is coming from the low back area. Christopher M. Powers, PT, PhD, et al. Effects of a Single Session of Posterior-to-Anterior Spinal Mobilization and Press-Up Exercise on Pain Response and Lumbar Spine Extension in People with Nonspecific Low Back Pain. In Physical Therapy. April 2008. Vol. 88. No. 4. Pp. 485-493.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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