Sciatica vs Sacroiliac
Commonly Mistaken For Each Other, Sciatica and Sacroiliac Are Very Different Causes of Pain
When it comes to pain in the lower back that refers to the buttocks or legs, you may hear people talk about sciatica and sacroiliac pain. Here's a brief explanation of these two painful conditions and how to differentiate them.
Sciatica (pronounced "sy-AT-ik-uh") is a painful condition characterized by burning, shooting, electrical or tingling pain radiating from your lower back to your lower extremity. The pain can radiate anywhere to your buttocks or all the way down to your toes. It get's its name from the sciatic ("sy-AT-ik") nerve; the largest nerve in the body comprised of several nerves from the lower spine to supply the lower leg with nerve impulses.
Sciatica or sciatic neuritis occurs when your sciatic nerve becomes irritated and inflamed. This can occur due to an injury to the low back and leg, from arthritis in the lower spine, from disc bulges or herniations, tumors or even a spasm in the buttocks muscles. The condition can range from mild and annoying to very severe and debilitating.
Diagnosing sciatica is through history and description of the pain and physical examination. Physical maneuvers to stretch the nerve are performed and will increase the nerve pain indicating nerve irritation. X-rays or MRI may be obtained to rule out the exact cause of your sciatica.
Treatment for sciatica pain involves reducing inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This can be accomplished through physiotherapy modalities such as heat, electrical stimulation and cold laser as well as stretching exercises. Chiropractic manipulation is also helpful to reduce irritation on your nerve at the source in the lumbar spine by unlocking stuck spinal bones.
The sacroiliac (pronounced "sakro-il-ee-ak") joint (SI joint) is an articulation between the ilium bone of the hip region with the sacral (tail) bone. The joint is a very tough joint that has very limited movement normally and is crucial in walking and turning. Your SI's can malfunction and become fixated or stuck (chiropractors call this a subluxation) with injuries usually involving a sudden twisting or turning of the pelvis, car accidents, slips and falls and heavy lifting. It's characterized as a dull pain at rest in the area overlying the joint and sharp pain on movement. The pain may radiate to your buttocks or upwards around the hip and lower back, BUT IT DOES NOT GO DOWN YOUR LEG. This is the crucial delineation between sciatica and sacroiliac pain.
Diagnosis of SI joint malfunction is on history and description of pain and physical exam. The joint is placed under stress by your doctor to reproduce the characteristic pain. X-rays may be obtained to see if the joint is arthritic, which is common.
SI joint pain treatment is primarily through manual chiropractic manipulation (adjustments) of the joint to unlock it followed by physiotherapy such as electrical stim or laser to relieve local inflammation. Your doctor will give you exercises to maintain proper joint motion.
Sciatica vs Sacroiliac Summarized
- Sciatica is a nerve problem with pain that shoots down the leg
- Sacroiliac pain is a joint malfunction causing localized pain
- Both conditions are successfully treated with chiropractic and therapy modalities
If You Have Problems With Either Your Sciatic Nerve or Sacroiliac Joint, Call Us Immediately (714) 938-0575 for an Appointment. You Will Be Evaluated to Find The Underlying Cause of Your Pain and Provide You With a Personalized Treatment Solution.