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Sacroiliac Pain vs. Sciatica: What's the Difference

Last updated 5 years ago

Back pain, particularly in the lower back, is extremely common among both men and women in the United States. In fact, studies show that lower back pain affects more than 80 percent of all individuals at any given time. A number of individuals attribute pain in the lower back to sciatica—however, this condition often exhibits the same symptoms as sacroiliac pain.  Check out this overview of the differences between sacroiliac pain and sciatica to learn more.

Sacroiliac Pain Your sacroiliac joints are formed where your sacrum—the triangle-shaped bone located in the lower portion of your spine—connects to the right and left iliac bones of the pelvis. Individuals who suffer from damaged or worn cartilage, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis may all experience sacroiliac pain localized in their lower-back and hips.  In addition to lower back pain, sacroiliac conditions may cause radiating pain into the groin and thighs and often gets worse while standing or walking. Treatment for sacroiliac pain usually includes rest, physical therapy, medications, cortisone injections, and radiofrequency.

Sciatica Sciatica often causes lower back pain and is therefore commonly mistaken for sacroiliac pain. However, sciatica is actually a condition which occurs when the sciatic nerve—which runs from the lower back down through the buttocks and through each leg—becomes inflamed or compressed. This may be the result of degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and obesity. Besides back pain, sciatica often causes other symptoms, including but not limited to pain in the buttocks that is worse when sitting, weakness of the foot or leg, shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand, and a burning or tingling sensation in the legs. Individuals suffering from sciatica may benefit from physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, medications, activity modification, epidural steroid injections, and other interventional therapies.

The best way to determine the underlying cause of your back pain is to consult with your pain management doctor. Give Pain Specialists of Orange County a call at (888) 699-1334 for more information on our Irvine, Laguna Hills, and Mission Viejo services.


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