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Sacroiliac Joint Pain And Sciatica

What is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

Sacroiliac (pronounced sak-roh-il-ee-ak) joint pain, sometimes called SI dysfunction, is thought to cause lower back and/or radiating leg pain. The leg pain can be particularly painful. SI Joint Pain feels similar to sciatica (see below) or pain caused by a spinal disc herniation, but it has a different cause.

Anatomy of Sacroiliac Joint

The sacroiliac joint describes the area where the spine meets the pelvis. Towards the bottom of the spine is a group of vertebrae called the sacrum (the triangle-shaped area between the lumbar and tailbone) which connects to the iliac crest (pelvic bone). The sacroiliac joint has limited mobility, but is very durable and strong. It is also reinforced by strong ligaments that surround the joint. These two joints (there is one on each side) are responsible for supporting the entire upper-body from the hips.

The sacroiliac joint does not have a large range of motion, unlike other joints in the body. This limitation in mobility is necessary for its strength. The joint also serves to act as a shock-absorber, transmitting any force the upper-body places onto the legs [1].

Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Pain

The cause of SI pain is not entirely understood, however it is thought to be caused by some issue with the joint’s movement.

  • Too Much Movement (Hypermobility or Instability): With hypermobility, the joint moves too much. The pain is typically felt in the lower back, hip, and/or groin.
  • Too Little Movement (Hypomobility or Fixation): Although the SI joint is stiff by nature, hypomobility means the joint moves even less. With limited movement, the pain is felt in the lower back and/or buttocks, radiating down the leg. The pain is similar to sciatica (described below). [2]

Sacroiliac Joint Pain can have multiple causes like, arthritis, pregnancy, infection, and trauma, including falls and auto accidents.

  • Falls- People of all ages, not just older people, can seriously hurt themselves when they fall. Whether it is a relatively minor fall or a major drop, the sacroiliac joint—among many other things—can be seriously damaged, especially if you break your fall on your buttock.
  • Auto Accidents- The impact associated with car accidents can cause damage to, and thus pain from, the sacroiliac joint. In an auto accident, it is natural for a person to bend their body or brace themselves in an awkward way. It is a response to our body’s instinctual reaction. For example, someone may keep one or both legs straight causing damage to the sacroiliac joint. [3]

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica (pronounced sigh-at-eh-kah) describes the symptom of pain in the leg(s), with possible tingling, numbness, or weakness. The pain originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down a large nerve, located in the back of each leg. The pain is named for that nerve—called the sciatic nerve—which runs down the back of the leg.

Sciatica is not a condition by itself, but instead is a symptom of some other underlying condition. Some conditions that could cause sciatica are: lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis.

Three million cases are reported in the US each year [4].

Symptoms of Sciatica

  • Constant or continuous pain in one-side of the buttocks and/or leg. It can occur in both, but it is rare.
  • The pain gets worse when you sit down.
  • Weakness, numbness, or general difficulty moving the leg, foot, toes, or any combination.
  • The pain is often described as sharp, searing, burning, or pins-and-needles, as oppose to a dull ache like you might get from a sore muscle.
  • The pain radiates out from a source, usually near the lower back, through the leg and possibly into the foot or toes.
  • Pain that is so sharp that it is difficult to stand up or walk.

[5]

Causes of Sciatica

As mentioned, sciatica and back pain can be the result of many different injuries or conditions. It is a fairly common complaint of people who are injured in automobile accidents. People with injuries like:

  • Herniated discs
  • Burst fragments
  • Sacroiliac joint injuries
  • Bulging discs
  • Fractured spine

[6]

Sciatic is most commonly caused by pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This is the reason that the pain seems to appear in a place other than where the patient is injured, since the sciatic nerve is connected to the spinal cord. Although sciatica can be annoying, and even extremely painful, it rarely requires surgery to fix (unless the root cause needs surgery). Some treatment options may be:

  • Medications like, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, narcotic pain medication, etc.
  • Physical therapy, once the pain and cause are reduced by other methods.
  • Steroid injections, although this is temporary since they cannot be administered too close together.
  • Surgery, usually to fix what is causing the pressure on the nerve to begin with. [7]

Dolman Law Group is an experienced firm the the area of back pain. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious back injury, call us at 727-451-6900 today for a free consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
727-451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/back-neck-injury-attorneys/

References:

[1] http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction/sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction-si-joint-pain
[2] http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction/sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction-si-joint-pain
[3] https://zyga.com/patients/si-joint-pain-dysfunction/causes/si-joint-injury/
[4] https://www.gstatic.com/healthricherkp/pdf/sciatica.pdf
[5] http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/what-you-need-know-about-sciatica
[6] https://www.gstatic.com/healthricherkp/pdf/sciatica.pdf
[7] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/basics/treatment/con-20026478