Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Sacroiliac joint forms the foundation of our spine and is a crucial linkage system between the pelvis and the lower part of our spine. In other words, this joint bears the weight and stress of your torso. So every time you stand or walk, the sacroiliac joint works hard to support your upper body and facilitate your movement. We hardly notice the existence of this sophisticated mechanism until it starts to hurt causing hip and leg pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain diagram of the pelvis.
What Is A Sacroiliac Joint?
The sacroiliac joint is located in the pelvis; it connects the pelvis to the lowest part of the spine above the tailbone.
The surfaces of this joint are uneven and covered with a thin sheet of cartilage, hence, they fit perfectly together. This joint has very little mobility, which is important for this vertical joint to transfer the weight from the upper body to the pelvis. Strong and tight ligaments connect the joint from both the front and back to make it stable. Nevertheless, the joint can be injured by uneven joint surface shifting, for example by falling on the hips.
In some people, rheumatic diseases cause pain and changes in the sacroiliac joint. While in others, trauma, muscle weakness, or extra mobility can cause sacroiliac joint issues.
Causes And Risk Factors
Normal wear and tear, trauma, or inflammation of the sacroiliac joint can make the joint painful and can make the activities like walking, sitting, and standing stressful.
There are several common causes and risk factors for sacroiliac joint pain:
- Osteoarthritis: Degenerative arthritis from the years of stress from joint surfaces rubbing against each other results in the joint getting damaged or worn away
- Ankylosing spondylitis: Inflammatory arthritis that affects the joints and vertebrae of the spine.
- Trauma (injuries from fall or accidents)
- Pregnancy: Puts extra pressure on the bones to change a person’s gait
- Gout or arthritis
- Conditions that alter the normal walking pattern
Symptoms Of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Typical symptoms include:
- Pain in your leg, buttocks, groin, or lower back; typically below the belt-line
- Pain in the groin
- Pain that is worsened by standing or walking
- Forward bending, stair climbing, or rising from a seated position can aggravate the pain
- Pain limited to one side of the body but can also occur on both sides
Diagnosing The Sacroiliac Joint Pain
A thorough medical history and medical examination are necessary to diagnose the condition. Many other systemic conditions mimic the SIJ symptoms, hence certain tests are often necessary to exclude the other pathologies.
Imaging like X-rays are rarely conclusive, so an MRI is the diagnostic test of choice. Sometimes, a diagnostic injection into the joint helps to identify it as the source of pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain Treatment
The sacroiliac joint pain might be a difficult thing to treat and the most successful treatment approach is the one that is multifaceted.
- Physical therapy and self-care: Physical therapies and rest aim to correct the underlying biomechanical abnormality that is causing the pain. Exercises and stretches help to normalize and strengthen the joint’s mechanics.
- Medication: Anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs can help to relieve acute pain
- Occupational therapy: Prescribed to modify daily living activities to prevent a recurrence.
- Sacroiliac belt: To support the joint and ease pain
Sacroiliac Joint Injection Therapy
This therapy may be considered when the pain is too severe or when the conservative treatment is not effective. Injections can be used both for the diagnosis as well as treatment of the SI joint pain. For diagnostic purposes, a local anesthetic like lidocaine is used while for pain relief, anti-inflammatory medications like steroids are injected into the joint.
The procedure is performed under X-ray guidance for accuracy. Once the needle enters the SI joint, contrast is injected to ensure proper needle placement and spread of medication. Many patients experience prolonged pain relief after the steroid injection, thus, enabling them to begin physical therapy and rehabilitation programs to further manage the pain.
This minimally invasive therapy can be used in conjunction with physical therapy to help the patient maintain normal function. The best treatment option for you depends upon your present situation.
Schedule An Appointment
Finding the right treatment option for your condition is an important decision and at MidSouth Pain, we want to help you make the best decision. Our experts will be glad to assess your condition and guide you through the various treatment options available.
Don’t let the pain affect your daily-to-day life, schedule an appointment with us to discuss how we can help.