Sacroiliac joint pain, SI joint pain, or sacroiliac joint dysfunction is one of the most common causes of back pain.
The sacroiliac joints can be found at the lower portion of the back where the spine and pelvis meet. They connect the iliac crest to the sacrum. The joints function by supporting the hips and the spine. Although the joints are small, they are relatively strong. They are connected to each other through tough ligaments. During normal activity, the joints may experience compression and twisting.
Inflammation and injury are the usual cause of sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The pain experienced may be the same with other back pain problems. This makes it difficult to diagnose the disease. Diagnostic procedures may also be utilized as a treatment for sacroiliac dysfunction. Treatment may involve physical therapy, medications, or surgery.
Sacroiliac Joint Injury Symptoms
The most common symptom of sacroiliac joint injury is SI joint pain. Knowing the signs and symptoms of the disease is important as it may serve as a basis for diagnosis. The pain in sacroiliac joint dysfunction usually occurs at the lower back, either at the right or left part. The pain may be severe that it may restrict or limit movement. The pain may also radiate to the groin area and the buttocks. It may even radiate in the testicles for males. Furthermore, referred pain may also occur into the lower extremities, which is often mistaken for sciatica.
The patient may also experience difficulty working with the lower extremities. This includes: putting on socks and shoes, turning over while in bed, and getting in and out of a car. Stiffness may also occur after long periods of sitting as well as upon waking up early in the morning. Tenderness may also be felt upon palpation of the surroundings of the affected joint.
Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Like any joints found in the body, the sacroiliac joint is also covered with cartilages. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber and also allows movement between the bones. However, these cartilages also experience wear and tear. In the event of wear and tear, a movement between bones causes friction leading to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Pregnancy may also lead to sacroiliac joint dysfunction. During pregnancy, different hormonal changes occur in the woman’s body. One of these hormonal changes causes the ligaments in the joints to relax to prepare the woman’s body for childbirth. Relaxing the ligaments increases the motion of the joints leading to stress. Stress in the joints may also be increased because of altered gait during pregnancy.
Stress on the sacroiliac joints may also be a result of conditions associated with an altered gait or walking pattern. An example of which is a discrepancy with the length of the leg. Pain in the foot, ankle, knee, or hip can also cause disruption in a person’s walking pattern. SI joint pain associated with these conditions is usually treated by solving the underlying problem.
Diseases can also cause SI joint inflammation. These include: psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and gout. All of these diseases affect the joints. These diseases are usually manifested by severe pain and stiffness in the joint area. They can also limit the range of motion of the joints.
Injuries that cause trauma to the SI joints can also cause sacroiliac joint pain. An example of which is falling onto the buttocks. This can damage the surrounding tissues of the joints, including the ligaments.
Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Before undergoing treatment for SI joint pain, it is important to first consult a physician. This is to ensure that proper diagnosis and treatment is done. Furthermore, in cases wherein the exact cause of the disease is yet unknown. A couple of interventions may be done to manage the pain. The treatment goal for this disease is to reduce pain and inflammation.
To reduce pain and inflammation in the affected joint, over-the-counter medications may be use. Medications include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin, and acetaminophen for pain and injectable steroids for inflammation. In cases of infection, antibiotics may be used to treat the infection. It is important to first consult a physician before using any medication to prevent complications.
It is also recommended for patients with this disease to consult a physical therapist. Physical therapist may aid the patient in planning an exercise program. An exercise program for these patients involves stretching and strengthening the lower-back muscles. Range of motion exercises is also important for the joints.
Other remedies for Sacroiliac joint pain involve proper body mechanics. This involves proper bending. When bending to pick up fallen objects, it is important to bend the knees and not the back. This is to ensure that there is no pressure at the back. Lifting should also be done by the legs and not the back to avoid injury. Twisting the body is also discouraged for patients with SI joint pain.