The Sacroiliac joints (SI joints) connect your hips to your back. Dysfunction in this area can lead to lower back and leg pain. It is important to correctly diagnose the source of your pain, as SI dysfunction can mimic sciatica and herniated discs. However, with proper diagnosis, a treatment plan that helps your pain and returns you to your active life is possible.
Sacroiliitis refers to any inflammation in the SI joint. SI joint pain refers to pain in the area, which can have a number of causes. Sacroiliitis may show up after an injury or may be a symptom of another condition such as Crohn’s disease or a type of arthritis.
SI joint dysfunction involves any sort of SI pain that is caused by abnormal motion in the SI joint. It can involve inflammation and pain in that area that can sometimes radiate into the buttocks or legs.
Lower back pain is the most common symptom of both sacroiliitis and SI joint pain. Pain may be dull and throbbing in a way that is similar to a herniated disc. It may also be felt as a shooting pain down into the legs that feels very similar to sciatica. Pain may get worse when sitting for a long time or after an action like rolling in bed. Many people experiencing some sort of SI joint dysfunction will also feel stiffness in their lower back and hips, especially after sitting for a long time or sleeping. Some people will experience fever along with pain.
The SI joint acts as a shock-absorbing structure for the body. It is small and strongly reinforced with ligaments and is not highly mobile. While the causes of SI pain are not well understood, they can include:
• Too much movement in the SI joint. This leads to lower back pain that radiates into the groin area.
• Too little movement in the SI joint. When it is too tense, this can lead to pain in the lower back or in one side or the other of the buttocks. This pain can often be felt radiating down the leg. It will often feel similar to sciatica.
These can occur after abnormal movements at work or during sports. An injury such as a fall onto the buttocks or the shock absorbed after missing a step while descending stairs can lead to SI joint pain. Motor vehicle accidents can also cause an impact that results in SI pain.
Diagnosis of Sacroiliitis or other SI joint pain must include eliminating other possible conditions. Diagnosis includes:
• A complete medical history that includes a discussion of your symptoms, when they began and any risk factors for SI joint dysfunction.
• A physical examination that includes an analysis of your pain levels and range of mobility.
• Diagnostic tests that include X-rays and MRIs or CT scans.
The most conservative treatments for Sacroiliitis and SI joint pain include rest, so your body can heal, paired with heat and cold therapy. Medications that include muscle relaxers and painkillers can provide pain relief. If your pain is severe, a sacroiliac joint injection can both confirm that the SI joint is the cause of your pain and provide pain relief. These injections usually use an analgesic and a steroid to fight inflammation. Platelet-rich plasma therapy can speed healing and ease pain. Radiofrequency neurotomy may be recommended for intractable pain.
We believe you do not have to live in pain. We offer professionals from a range of disciplines who, together, can diagnose the source of your pain and help you find relief. Get in touch today for an appointment.