Iliac Crest Pain: Causes and Ways to Manage It

Much like other parts of the body, when there is injury or trauma, it results in pain. The iliac crest found in the hip bone is not exempt from trauma. However, it can be easily alleviated with a few exercises. Click here for ways to manage iliac crest pain.

Iliac crest trauma results to pain.

The most noticeable part of the ilium is called the iliac crest. It forms the wing-like portion of the pelvis, where an individual would usually rest his hands. Much like other parts of the body, this portion is not exempt from a trauma that results in pain. So, what does iliac crest pain signify and what causes it? Plus, is lower back pain a symptom of injury to the iliac crest?

Overview: Iliac Crest

Before jumping into that, it is essential to understand the parts of the iliac crest. The bony pelvis or the hip bone offers support to the spine and organs, stability, and strength. Three bones make up the hip bone, namely the pubis, ischium, and ilium. For the ilium, the most prominent portion is known as the iliac crest, and it is the largest bone.

Apart from the bones, the iliac crest connects to vital muscles which include the main abdominals, the most significant back muscle, and the gluteus maximus of the hip.


So, what exactly causes iliac crest pain? Some of these include the following.


A car accident or a fall may likely result in injury to the iliac crest. This also leads to pain and tenderness in the hip area and even in the lower back. For a trauma like a fall, if an individual land on the upper and front part of the iliac crest, then it is referred to as a hip pointer.

Weak Muscles

An individual needs strong core muscles to support and move the joints properly. So, if the lower back muscles or the abdominal muscles are weak, then pain in the hip is a likely result.

Ilium Apophysitis

Apophysis refers to a growth plate, and it is the point of the bone where the muscles attach. Furthermore, it is the area of the bone where the rest grows out, so it is usually the last portion of the bone to harden. That is why it is soft in teenagers and children.

If muscles are pulled repeatedly from this growth plate, then it results in inflammation or irritation. In worst-case scenarios, the muscles on the growth plate might even be pulled off. Nonetheless, the condition resolves on its own once growth finalizes, and the bone hardens.

Ilium apophysitis usually occurs in adolescents and children. It is a result of overuse and leads to dull pain felt at the front hip. Moreover, the area is tender and swollen, and the pain worsens with physical activity.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Pain that is felt in the groin, abdomen, or lower back is a result of an inflamed or damaged sacroiliac joint. The said joint connects the lower part of the spine to the iliac and is found in the pelvis.

Damage to the sacroiliac joint is a result of either exercise, aging, or arthritis. The pain associated with the joint dysfunction starts in one side of the buttocks or lower back before it reaches the upper thigh, groin, or lower hip.

Other symptoms of this condition involve weakness, tingling, and numbness in the leg. Symptoms may worsen when walking down or up the stairs, sleeping, or sitting.

Iliolumbar Syndrome

Iliolumbar syndrome is also referred to as iliac crest pain syndrome. This condition happens when there is a tear in the iliolumbar ligament. Repeated bending or twisting movements result in the damage. Other factors also include trauma like a severe fall or a car accident.

Symptoms associated with this syndrome involve severe pain in the lower back which spreads to the groin and hip. The pain is further aggravated if the individual twists or bends.

Gluteus Medius Pain

When there is a dysfunction in the gluteus median muscle, it is likely to cause pain in the iliac crest as well. This results in reduced flexibility, range of motion, nerve and muscle function, and blood flow.

Piriformis Syndrome

Such a condition is a result of tight muscles due to wear and tear. This leads to pressure on the sciatic nerve that causes pain in the buttocks and hips.

Cancer of the Bone

Iliac crest pain is also highly likely due to a disease of the bone, though rare.


For the most variations of iliac crest pain, the first step is R.I.C.E., which is an acronym that spells out rest, ice, compression, and elevation. An individual experiencing pain in the iliac crest must put a stop on all activities that cause strain to the hip bone or lower back.

Afterward, ice should be applied to the area which aims to reduce pain and inflammation. The ice must be towel-wrapped and applied approximately 15 minutes thrice a day. Instead of ice, a cold compress may also be utilized. Wrapping the affected area with a bandage, preferably a compression bandage also helps reduce the swelling. Finally, elevating the area above the heart should be done.

Further, reduce inflammation and pain with the help of pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. However, in cases where the R.I.C.E. method fails to work, then an anti-inflammatory drug is prescribed by a doctor. Moreover, physical therapy is also advised.


Prevent and manage iliac crest pain with the following stretches and exercises. However, take note that before you do the following, inform and consult with your primary caregiver.

  1. Lunges: For this exercise, you take a huge step backward but keep the back heel of your foot off the floor. Lower your body until both your legs have formed a 90-degree angle. Keep your back straight and don’t move your front knee past your ankle. Repeat before switching sides. Do this as many times as you can.
  2. Hip Abduction Stretch: Stand straight with the feet, knees, and hips pointed forward. Afterward, lift the left leg to the side and hold this position for a few seconds. Repeat for the right leg.
  3. Hip Flexor Stretch: Put your hands on your hips and kneel on one knee. The other leg should be bent in front. Thrust the hips forward but keep your back straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Switch legs after.
  4. Hip Extensions: Place your hands on a chair’s back, which should be at the height of your waist. Afterward, extend one leg backward. Keep the back straight and keep this position for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.

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