Can Knee Pain Cause Hip Pain? Understanding the Connection

Written By Brady Wirick

The short answer? Yes. The long answer and steps to take? Keep reading.

Knee pain and hip pain are two common musculoskeletal complaints that many people experience at some point in their lives. While these pains are often viewed as separate issues, there is a strong connection between them that is frequently overlooked. In this blog post, we’ll explore the relationship between knee pain and hip pain, the potential causes, and how you can manage and prevent these discomforts from interfering with your daily life.

Understanding the Anatomy

Do you remember that song we all sang in elementary school? The foot bone is connected to the leg bone, the leg bone is connected to the hip bone….. and so forth? I learned in chiropractic school that this is indeed true. It comes down to anatomy. To comprehend how knee pain can lead to hip pain, it’s essential to understand the complex anatomy of the lower body. The hip and knee joints are interconnected through the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles all play a crucial role in maintaining the stability and functionality of both the hip and knee joints.

How Knee Pain Can Lead to Hip Pain

  1. Altered Gait: Knee pain can disrupt your natural walking pattern or gait. When you experience discomfort in your knee, you may unconsciously change the way you walk to avoid putting weight on the painful area. This altered gait can place extra stress on the hip joint, leading to hip pain over time.


  1. Compensation: When one joint is injured or painful, the body often compensates by shifting the load to other areas. For instance, if you have knee pain, you might lean more on your unaffected side, which can lead to increased stress on the hip joint, potentially causing hip pain.


  1. Muscle Imbalances: Knee pain can result from muscle imbalances around the knee joint. Similarly, hip pain can occur due to imbalances in the hip muscles. These imbalances can create a vicious cycle, as knee pain can lead to hip muscle imbalances, and hip pain can exacerbate knee issues.


Common Causes of Knee Pain That Can Lead to Hip Pain

  1. Arthritis: Conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can affect both the knee and hip joints, leading to pain in both areas.


  1. Ligament Injuries: Injuries to the knee ligaments, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), can alter your gait and impact your hip joint.


  1. Meniscus Tears: Tears in the meniscus, the cartilage cushioning the knee joint, can affect how you walk and potentially cause hip discomfort.


  1. Patellofemoral Syndrome: This condition, often characterized by pain around the kneecap, can lead to altered knee mechanics and eventually hip pain.


Managing and Preventing Knee and Hip Pain

There are 2 schools of thought when it comes to managing hip and knee pain. 

You already know the classic is the medical route. This route includes rest, ice, cold and elevation (RICE), over the counter medications, prescription medications, physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery.

The more conservative approach looks a little different.

  1. Chiropractic: Chiropractors focus on restoring proper alignment and function to the musculoskeletal system, which includes the spine, hips, and knees. By using manual adjustments and various techniques, chiropractors can help alleviate pain, improve joint mobility, and reduce muscle tension in the knee and hip regions.


  1. Exercise and Strengthening: Regular exercises that target the muscles around the hip and knee joints can help maintain joint stability and reduce the risk of pain.


  1. Losing Weight and Eating an Anti Inflammatory Diet: Everyone seems to know that getting excess weight off of your joints leads to less joint pain. The lesser known component is eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the joints, which is often a key driver of hip and knee pain. By combining weight loss with an anti-inflammatory dietary approach, individuals may experience significant relief and enhanced overall joint health.


  1. Low Level Laser Therapy (LLL): Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), also known as cold laser therapy, is a non-invasive treatment that has shown promise in addressing knee and hip pain. LLLT involves the application of low-level laser light to the affected area, which is believed to stimulate cellular repair and reduce inflammation. When used for knee and hip pain, LLLT can potentially help alleviate discomfort by promoting tissue healing, improving blood circulation, and reducing pain and swelling. While research on the effectiveness of LLLT for knee and hip pain is ongoing, many individuals have reported positive outcomes with this therapy. 

5. Regenerative Medicine: Regenerative medicine offers promising avenues for addressing knee and hip pain. This innovative               field encompasses treatments like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy, which aim to stimulate the                       body’s  natural healing processes. For knee and hip pain, these therapies can promote tissue repair, reduce inflammation,                 and enhance joint function. PRP injections, for instance, use a patient’s own concentrated platelets to accelerate healing in                 damaged joints. Stem cell therapy involves the use of stem cells, often derived from donated umbilical cords from healthy live             births, to regenerate damaged cartilage or tissues in the hip and knee joints


Knee pain can indeed cause hip pain due to the intricate relationship between these two joints and the surrounding musculature. Understanding this connection is essential for effective management and prevention of these discomforts. By addressing knee pain early, maintaining proper joint mechanics, and seeking professional guidance, you can reduce the likelihood of hip pain and enjoy a more comfortable and active life.


We would love to see if these options are right for you. Please call us at 208-218-8622 or visit 



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