Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction or Sciatica? Don’t Confuse One for the Other

If your patient is experiencing leg or lower back pain, your first thought may be that they’re experiencing sciatica. They may actually be experiencing dysfunction of the sacroiliac (SI) joint, however.

While pain caused by sciatica and SI joint dysfunction may feel similar or even identical, they require different treatment regimens. It’s important to understand the difference between sciatic and SI joint dysfunction when diagnosing and treating patients.

Comparing and contrasting the conditions

The SI joint connects the hip bones to the sacrum, which is a triangular bone that sits between the coccyx and the lumbar spine. There are a number of factors and activities that can contribute to SI joint dysfunction, which feels very similar to sciatica. Many patients may describe SI joint dysfunction symptoms identically to sciatic symptoms.

Sciatica occurs when a lumbar disc herniates. In the lower back, this often manifests as lumbar pain or as leg pain that radiates downward. While sciatica is a well-known cause of lumbar back and leg pain, it’s currently estimated that as many as 30 percent of cases involving lower back pain are actually caused by SI joint dysfunction.

Regardless of whether your patient is suffering from sciatica or SI joint dysfunction, both problems are relatively serious medical conditions that deserve immediate attention. Failure to treat SI joint dysfunction or sciatica correctly can result in long-term chronic pain and reduced mobility.

Sources of SI joint dysfunction

In cases when sciatica can be ruled out by qualifying symptoms of SI joint dysfunction, it’s important to delve deeper into the cause of the condition specific to the patient. There are two primary causes of SI joint dysfunction, contrasted on the same scale of severity:

  • Insufficient motion: If there’s not enough motion in the SI joint, it can cause the muscles surrounding the pelvis to feel tense and uncomfortable. SI joint dysfunction caused by insufficient motion often manifests as a pain on one side of the lower back or buttocks that radiates downward.
  • Too much motion: Too much motion in the SI joint can cause the pelvis to feel unstable and cause pain. Called hypermobility or instability, this type of paint typically radiates into the groin area and causes substantive discomfort. It also results in a loss of motion.

Treating SI joint dysfunction

Treatment for SI joint dysfunction, depending on the severity of the dysfunction, can vary greatly. It’s important to work with patients to develop a recovery plan that meets their needs and helps them along the path to recovery. A Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach is often warranted.

In some cases, simple rest and pain relief may be enough to address SI joint dysfunction. Other patients, however, may need manual manipulation to stimulate the joint and the muscles and nerves surrounding it.

In cases where the joint is too loose, patients may need to be fitted with a brace designed to restrict the joint’s motion. Some patients may actually need SI joint injections that consist of a localized anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory drug to reduce swelling and pain.

Always personalize the care approach

Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) is a leading chiropractic technique that encourages chiropractic practitioners to innovate and improve patient care. To learn more about ways that we can help you improve your treatment and diagnoses of SI joint dysfunction, reach out today.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See for providers in your area.

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