Is It Really Sciatica? Alternative 2
It feels like sciatica. But it could be SI joint dysfunction instead!
Sciatica is a (literal) pain in the butt! One that you want to be to of ASAP. In a previous article, I outlined how piriformis syndrome can mimic sciatica symptoms and what you can do to help yourself at home. But what if you don't have piriformis syndrome? SI joint dysfunction could be causing your symptoms.
Your sacroiliac (SI) joint is the connection between your sacrum, the beautiful triangle shaped bone at the bottom of your spine, and your innominate bones which are otherwise called your hip bones. Dysfunction results when one or both of these bones slips out of place and cannot return to its original position. Low back pain and hip pain are the most common symptoms of SI joint dysfunction, but it can also mimic sciatica if the misalignment irritates the part of the sciatic nerve that exits the spine via the first, second, or third sacral vertebra.
If you are familiar with this area, you might also be familiar with the notion this joint is immobile or is not capable of enough motion to cause pain. Some anatomists and health professionals believe this because there is a fairly solid web of ligaments which hold the joint together and. However, the only other places in the body which have anywhere near (and by near I mean far, far second) the same intensive ligamentous connections are the wrist and ankle. From this preservative, we could view the SI joint as one of the most potentially mobile structures in the body. Even if we were to disregard my postulation, your SI joint biomechanically must have at least some play otherwise it would be impossible to walk! Watch the video below to see how the sacroiliac twists through with gait (the movement is exaggerated in the video).
But back to fixing your pain!
A physical therapist, chiropractor, or other healthcare professional will typically use several manual tester to office diagnose sacroiliac dysfunction. However, you can get a decent idea if this condition is part of the problem with simple palpation.
1) Place your hands on your hips, fingers to the front and thumbs to the back
2) With your thumbs locate your posterior superior iliac spines. For those that don't speak anatomy yet, that's the technical term for the bony landmark that underlies the dimples in your back, above your hips
2.5) If you are still having trouble locating this spot, place your thumbs on the top of your hip bones (this is higher than you might think) and walk them down the curve of the bone until you hit a place that feels like a shelf
3) Walk your thumbs out to your sides about an inch
4) You've now found the edges of your sacral bone!
5) Follow your sacrum by pressing firmly along the edge. I recommend alternately compressing either side as you move down the bone.
6) If the pressure causes tenderness on the side you are experiencing pain or reproduces your symptoms, there is a good chance SI joint dysfunction is at least a contributing factor in your sciatic symptoms
Did you test positive for dysfunction? Great! Wearing a faja or an SI belt is a highly effective way to help heal your SI joint.
A faja is a traditional tool wrapped around the hip bones used in indigenous cultures to support the pelvic girdle and organs. It is essentially a really long scarf so it can be worn over or under your clothes. An SI belt is the modern medical version of the faja. It's much less attractive then the traditional version so most people opt to wear it under their clothing. Both are wrapped securely around the hip bones providing stabilization for the sacroiliac joint. Which you choose is all about your preference. If you're looking for extra help, set up an appointment with your chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist.
Have you ever used an SI belt or faja? How did it feel? Were you using it to correct SI joint dysfunction or another purpose? Let me know in the comments!
And remember to share this article with someone it could help!