Iliac Crest

What is the Iliac Crest?

Three bones merge to form the hip bone or the os coxa and the largest of the three bones is the ilium. The iliac crest is the superior curve border which is also present at the lateral edge of the ilium and is close to the surface of the skin in the hip region. Several muscles of the thighs and buttocks are attached to the iliac crest.

iliac crest picture

Image Source:

Importance of the Iliac Crest

It acts as a dividing line between pelvis and abdomen. Being at the highest position, it is present at the level of the L4 spinous process of the vertebra and between the L4-L5 inter-vertebral discs. Thus, making it safer to conduct a spinal tap and get access to cerebrospinal fluid without causing damage to the spinal cord. Moreover, due to its proximity to the surface of the skin and a large amount of red bone marrow as well as bone tissue found in it, the iliac crest aids in bone marrow transplant and bone grafting.

There are some factors causing pain in the iliac crest. The individual may experience pain under the following situations:

  • Moving the hips
  • Raising the legs
  • Movement of the lumbar spine
  • Sharp or dull pain while performing certain specific activities
    iliac crest image

    Image Source:

Iliac Crest Pain Causes

  • Trauma: Damage to the iliac crest after an accident could result in trauma. A similar situation may arise if a person lands on their hip pointer due to a serious fall. It could result in pain and tenderness in the hip or lower back area.
  • Cancer of the bone: It is very rare when the pain in the iliac crest is due to cancer in this bone. It may lead to severe degeneration and discomfort over a long period.
  • Weak muscles: For the joints to move properly and have support, the body needs strong core muscles. When these muscles are weak, they may lead to pain in the hips and lower back.
  • Iliolumbar syndrome: Also known as iliac crest pain syndrome, the pain occurs when there is a tear in the iliolumbar ligament. It can happen after a serious accident or fall as well as repetitive twisting and bending motions. Persistent pain in the lower back that spreads to the hip and groin are common symptoms of this disorder.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: The sacroiliac joint is present in the pelvis and links the lower part of the spine to the iliac. Inflammation of this joint could be the result of exercising, jogging, arthritis, old age, etc. It causes pain in the lower back, groin and abdomen that initially starts on one side of the body. An individual may experience a tingling feeling, numbness or weakness in the legs.
  • Ilium apophysitis: The apophysitis is a location where the muscle is attached to the bone while also being a growth plate. This area on the bone is the last to harden fully because the rest of the bone grows from this region. It is softer among children and adolescents. Performing certain activities or playing sports could cause the muscle to pull away from the bone or it may be completely pulled off the bone. It can result in the inflammation. The situation seems to improve when the growth plate hardens. Usually, the area becomes swollen and tender
    iliac crest

    Image Source:

  • Gluteus medius pain: Pain in the iliac could be the result of a problem in the gluteus medius muscle. The effects of such a pain include a decrease in the range of flexibility, blood flow, range of motion and a decrease in nerve and muscle motion.
  • Piriformis syndrome: Due to wear and tear, muscles may become too tight. The exertion of pressure on the sciatic nerve allows the pain to spread to the hips and buttocks.
  • Pregnancy: The period involves many bodily changes for women. These changes are mostly to accommodate the growing baby in the womb and to make way to deliver the baby after the gestation period is over. It may result in inflammation or broadening of the iliac crest.

Iliac Crest Pain Diagnosis

  • X-rays
  • CT Scans
  • Radiography tests
  • Physical examination based on the symptoms

Prevention of Iliac Crest Pain

  • Practice regular exercise to increase muscle strength, especially the muscles surrounding the iliac crest
  • Wear good shoes and replace old running shoes worn away
  • Stretch the ligaments and muscles surrounding the iliac crest to prevent any injury or damage to it
  • While running or participating in sports, one must make sure to run or practice on an even surface that is in good condition

Iliac Crest Treatment

  • Rest: The most important way to treat this condition is to rest. Reducing the movement or bending of the hip area gives the body the time to repair itself. It also helps to prevent the situation from worsening.
  • Ice: Applying ice on the area where the pain occurs helps to deal with the intensity of the pain. Ice can numb the area and thus the feeling of pain decreases substantially.
  • Compression: Using a bandage to apply compression on the painful region helps to reduce and limit the inflammation. Moreover, sometimes it also aids in movement and the lowering of the pain.
  • Elevation: The area where the pain occurs must be kept at a level that is higher than the rest of the body. It is understood as a beneficial in speeding up the treatment process.
  • Medication: Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are anti-inflammatory medicines that help to reduce the pain as well as the inflammation in the affected area.

Exercises that could help to treat iliac crest pain

Exercising daily is an easy way to get rid of or prevent the pain from occurring. Moreover, it keeps the individual healthy and improves their muscle strength as well.

  • Hip flex or stretch
  • Hip abduction stretch
  • Lunges
  • Hip extensions

Leave a Reply