(HealthDay News)  Disc space narrowing at disc levels L1/L2 and L2/L3, visible on lumbar radiographs, may help to identify hip pain patients whose pain originates in the lumbar spine, according to research published in the November issue of the European Spine Journal.

In an effort to evaluate the association between hip pain and osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine, Evelien I.T. de Schepper, MD, of the Erasmus Medical College in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted an open population-based study involving 2,819 patients, ≥55 years of age, with lumbar radiographs.

The researchers found that men and women with disc space narrowing grade 1 or higher at the L1/L2 level were 2-fold and 1.7-fold, respectively, more likely to have reported hip pain within the previous month. When taking into account self-reported chronic hip pain, the association was even stronger, especially in men (2.5-fold). Grade 1 or higher disc space narrowing at the L2/L3 level was only significantly associated with hip pain in women.

“In this study, disc space narrowing at level L1/L2 appeared to be associated with pain in the hip region, especially in men. The strength of the associations increased for participants with chronic hip pain and in those without radiological signs of hip osteoarthritis,” the authors write. “These results suggest that in case of uncertainty of the cause of hip pain, evaluation of lumbar radiographs may help to identify those hip pain patients who may benefit the most from further diagnostic evaluation.”

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