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Signs your back pain is related to your joints

The causes of back pain aren’t always obvious.

Some patients experience back pain as the result of issues in their knees or hips.

It can be easy to assume your pain is from your back alone, but with the help of an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapists, you can locate the source of your pain and heal faster.

woman with lower back pain

Signs your back pain is being caused by joint problems

While joint problems and back pain might seem completely unrelated, the connection between the two is not all that far-fetched. There are many ways to tell if your back pain is associated with your joints.

Back pain symptoms may include:

  • Simultaneous pain in your knees and back. It could be that you are tense, cramped, or tight. Or, it could be that your knees and back are experiencing similar symptoms, making it all the more possible that both areas are being affected. 
  • Tightness in the back of your legs (hamstrings). Pain located in your knees can affect your posture and stance. When you begin to feel tightness in your legs, it could be the result of an impacted posture, leading to pain in the back and weakness around the knees.
  • Weakness in the thighs. If your legs feel worn out after a short distance, that can mean your knees are playing a bigger role in your back pain than you might have thought. 
  • Limping. An obvious sign to knee pain is limping, or favoring one leg over the other. Your back pain could be the result of continued limping and the overcompensation of one side of your body to make up for the other.
  • Shifted/affected walking gait. Continuous limping, or walking modifications in general, can affect your gait. Your gait is the way you move and the way one foot steps in front of the other. If you are suffering from back pain, in combination with a troubled joint, then your gait will become more and more altered. 

While these are common signs, they are not the only ones. If you are experiencing back pain, it's important to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Just because your back hurts doesn't mean that your back is the reason you have this issue. Finding out what is truly causing your pain can help in finding a treatment plan for you.

Finding the right treatment plan

If your knees are the reason for your back pain, then talking with an orthopedic surgeon is the best first step in your treatment plan. Your orthopedic surgeon will be able to use tests and imaging to determine where your pain is coming from and why.

Once they have determined the source, your treatment plan will be designed on what will work best for you. 

Physical therapy

It could be that your solution can be found with the help of a physical therapist. Physical therapy can help alleviate your pain through stretching, exercises, and improvements to posture and/or gait. 

If your pain in your back or knees goes away with rehabilitation, then additional treatments options most likely will not be needed. If physical therapy does not improve your pain, then your orthopedic surgeon will recommend other options.


Your orthopedic surgeon may use injections in your affected knee to help relieve the pain that is ultimately affecting your pain. Injections can localize in directly on the spot that is causing the pain.

Surgical treatment options

If all non-surgical options are not relieving your pain, then your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery. This could be minimally-invasive or, if damage is too severe, a total replacement. Your doctor will take all tests, images, and non-surgical outcomes into account when determining how extensive surgery needs to be. 

When back pain is back pain

If your back pain is related to or caused from an issue in your back, then orthopedic options for your knees will not be the best place to start.

Talking to a spine specialist can help determine where your pain is radiating from in your back and if it's a structural issue. While sometimes back pain is just the result of another affected area, a lot of times it is just that—back pain.

How we treat back pain at Logansport Memorial Hospital

Logansport Memorial Hospital offers many options for back pain, whether it be related to your hips and knees or not.

Our orthopedic surgeons can guide you in the right direction with a personalized treatment plan and our physical therapists can work with you to get back to your best, pain-free self.

Don't let back pain slow you down. Call us at 574.753.7541.

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TOPICS: Orthopedics, Spinal care