Sacroiliac Joint Pain

SI Joint Dysfunction

Low back pain can limit your function in work and recreational activities.
Sacroiliac joint pain can limit your normal mobility. Jack Ambrose, Getty Images

The sacroiliac joint is formed by the connection between the sacrum and the iliac bone on either side. The sacrum consists of five fused vertebrae below the lumbar (lower) spine, where the iliac bone is the large bone that makes up the pelvis. A thick band of ligaments hold this joint together. There is very little normal motion between these two joints, however this joint does support much of the weight of our upper body when we are in the upright position.

When this joint becomes injured or inflamed, pain can result, a condition called sacroiliac dysfunction.

A variety of conditions can result in the pain of sacroiliac dysfunction. Arthritis affects many joints of the body, and the sacroiliac joint is of no exception. When the joint’s cartilage is damaged or worn away, the bones begin to rub on each other, and osteoarthritis results. This is the most common cause of SI joint dysfunction. Direct trauma to the joint, such as a fall can also result in sacroiliac joint pain. Pregnancy is another frequent cause of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, possibly because of changes in posture or hormonal effects on joint laxity.

Leg length discrepancy - having one leg shorter than the other - is another condition that results in excessive motion at the sacroiliac joint as well as pain. Various systemic disorders also affect the sacroiliac joint. These include ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Where is SIJ Pain Felt?

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction causes pain in the lower back region that radiates down the posterior buttock region. The pain increases during walking or standing and is less when lying down. Symptoms can sometimes occur in the hips or groin region as well. Symptoms can be replicated when the joint is stressed during an examination by a health care professional.

Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Pain

Treatment of sacroiliac joint dysfunction can include invasive procedures such as joint injections as well as non-invasive procedures involving physical therapy exercises. Joint injections involve placing a solution of local anesthetic into the joint as well as a small amount of steroid.

Physical Therapy for SIJ Pain and Dysfunction

If you have SIJ pain, you should visit your doctor right away to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition and to get started on treatment right away. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist for your condition.

Your physical therapist can assess the way your back moves and how your SIJ is functioning. He or she can then offer treatments to help you decrease your pain and improve your overall functional mobility. Treatments may include:

Sacroiliac joint pain can be a difficult condition to treat. The joint is a very stable structure, and it is difficult to fully mobilize it and keep it moving. your physical therapist can help you fully understand how to treat your SIJ pain, but it may take commitment and a regular home exercise program regimen to fully treat your condition.

Working closely with your doctor and your physical therapist can help you manage your sacroiliac joint pain and get you back to your normal activities quickly and safely.

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