SI Joint Pain - Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Lower back pain is an aggravation that is all too common among adults. Often, this symptom is due to problems with the sacroiliac joint, or SI joint.
What Is the Sacroiliac Joint?
Everyone has two sacro iliac joints that connect the sacrum to the right and left iliac bones. The sacrum is a triangle-shaped bone near the bottom of the spine. Unlike most of the spine, this bone is immobile and is formed of five fused vertebrae. The iliac bones form the pelvis. Thus, the SI joint essentially connects the pelvis to the spine.
The sacroiliac joints function as shock absorbers for the spine and help one to stabilize as he or she walks. They are relatively immobile joints with the norm being that they allow for rotation of just four degrees.
These joints support the weight of the entire upper body when one is upright. So as you might imagine, these sacroiliac joints are subject to a lot of stress, and thus it is not surprising that sacroiliac joint pain is not uncommon. (For more on low back pain, check out this slideshow.)
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Symptoms
The most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction is lower back pain. But in addition to SI back pain, the following can also be tied to SI dysfunction:
- Pain at the back of the hips
- Groin or thigh pain
- Stiffness, burning sensation in pelvis
SI pain may be worse or more intense when one stands after sitting or when climbing stairs. Sacroiliac pain is generally isolated to one side (e.g., right SI joint pain), but it can occur bilaterally.
Causes of Pain in SI Joint
SI joint pain can stem from a variety of causes. As previously alluded to, the SI joint takes on a lot of pressure because it supports one’s entire upper body weight when one is upright, not to mention it helps to absorb shock to the spine.
For that reason, it is not surprising that chronic SI joint pain is often due to the cartilage erosion that occurs as one ages. When the cartilage in the sacroiliac joint wears down, the bones rub against one another, causing pain. This happening is known as degenerative arthritis.
SI disorder is also common among pregnant women. This is because of hormone changes during pregnancy that cause connective tissues to relax. Thus, the relaxed ligaments holding the SI joints together allow for more joint movement. As mentioned earlier, these joints are not supposed to be able to move much. Thus, this strains the joint and can cause lower back pain.
This, then, is compounded by the excess weight a pregnant woman carries and the abnormal “waddle” the woman might assume.
Indeed, any abnormality to one’s gait can result in sacro iliac joint pain, whether this is due to uneven leg lengths, or pain in one’s hips, knees, feet, etc., or some other disorder.
There are also a number of conditions that in and of themselves cause inflammation of the SI joints and thus pain, including:
And finally, injury to the region, such as falling onto one’s bottom on the ice, can cause SI joints pain.
SI Disease Treatment
A method that is common both for diagnosis and treatment of sacroiliac joint pain is an injection of an anesthetic and steroid into the SI joint to ease pain and inflammation. The problem with this method is that it does not address the underlying cause to keep it from reoccurring. In addition, the resulting pain relief is temporary, with the duration of the pain relief varying from person to person.
If the underlying cause SI joint pain is a correctable abnormal gait, fixing this will generally clear up the sacro iliac joint dysfunction, too. Losing excess weight can also help to ease stress on the SI joint and thus can improve a sore SI joint.
Physical therapy, including stretching and stability exercises to correct the motion of the SI joint can also help to both treat and prevent sacroiliac pain.
One might also use a sacroiliac belt to support and stabilize the SI joints, thereby easing pain.
For instances of chronic SI joint pain, a doctor may recommend surgery to fuse the SI joints, but this is generally only undergone after other, less invasive methods of treatment have failed to provide sacroiliac joint pain relief.
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