SI Joint Disease SACROILIAC JOINT DYSFUNCTION

About the Sacroiliac Joint

Every time you stand erect, thank your sacroiliac (SI) joints. These two joints work hard; they connect your spine to your pelvis, support your upper body, and act as a shock absorber. Yet they don’t get much attention — that is, until they start to hurt.

Sacroiliac Joint Pain Symptoms

When you have sacroiliac joint disease, you are likely to have pain in your leg, buttocks, groin, or lower back. The pain can occur when you stand up, walk, sit, or sleep. 

Normal wear and tear of the joint, trauma, and inflammation can lead to painful walking, sitting, sleeping, getting in and out of a car, and other activities.

Although it is not always clear what causes sacroiliac pain, it is estimated that 15%-25% of patients with axial low back pain can attribute their pain to the SI joint.1

Conditions Causing Sacroiliac Joint Disease

Sacroiliac joint disease typically results from one of two conditions:

  • Inflammation of the SI joint, called “degenerative sacroiliitis”
  • Too much or too little motion in the SI joint, known as “sacroiliac joint disruption”

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your doctor will determine whether you have sacroiliac joint disease by reviewing your medical history, taking x-rays, and reviewing the results from other tests you have completed. Sometimes doctors make a definitive diagnosis through treatment. Doctors may also perform a series of provocative tests.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Often doctors will recommend starting with a nonsurgical treatment, such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Medications
  • Injections

Surgical treatments

If physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, medications, or injections don’t help, your doctor may recommend that you consider surgery to stabilise your sacroiliac joint through fusion (joining bones together into one solid structure). SI joint fusion can now be performed as a minimally invasive surgery using a posterior approach. You and your medical team can decide if surgery is a good option to treat your sacroiliac joint disease.

The best treatment for you depends on your unique situation. Talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment.

Need help finding a doctor who specialises in the SI joint? Use our handy search guide.

References

1

Cohen, Steven P. Sacroiliac Joint Pain: A Comprehensive Review of Anatomy, Diagnosis, and Treatment.  Anesth Analg 2005;101:1440-1453.

This website is intended to be educational and is not to be used as a diagnostic tool. It is not intended to replace the information provided to you by your healthcare providers and does not constitute medical advice. The information may not be directly applicable for your individual clinical circumstance. Please talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.