Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 9, 2018
Back pain can stem from a myriad of different causes, but one cause that is often overlooked is dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint. Your sacroiliac joint, oftentimes simply referred to as the SI joint, helps to connect your sacrum with your pelvis on each side of your spine. The joint needs to have good balance, as it acts to provide stability and limited motion in the area. Problems can occur if the joint becomes loose and allows too much motion, or if it becomes too rigid and doesn’t allow enough motion.
When these types of issues develop, back pain is likely to follow, but symptoms aren’t always contained to the spine. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can also cause pain in the hips, groin and even to the buttocks and down the leg if it begins to affect the sciatic nerve.
Causes and Diagnosing Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Damage to the joint or joint dysfunction can be caused by a number of different issues. Sometimes it is causes by acute trauma, like during an accident or fall, while other times it can happen during bodily trauma from pregnancy or while giving birth. It can also have non-traumatic causes, like as a result of osteoporosis, gout, gait irregularities or spinal inflammation.
If lumbar spine pain is giving you trouble, and you’re dealing with any of the above potential causes, it’s worth your time to go and get a diagnosis from a spine specialist like Dr. Sinicropi. The biggest reason why pinpointing problems in the SI joint can be difficult is because as we age, almost everyone has natural joint degeneration. A recent study found that 65 percent of individuals showed SI joint degeneration on CT scan, but none of them were experiencing symptoms, so just because your joint isn’t as healthy as it was in the past, doesn’t mean symptoms will surely follow. It’s also important to remember that just because a CT scan shows degeneration, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the cause of your spine pain.
In order to get the best diagnosis, you’re going to want to be evaluated by a spine specialist and not your general practitioner. With the aid of a physical examination, imaging results and a thorough review of all the facts, Dr. Sinicropi can help to pinpoint the root cause of your pain, as well as the best ways to treat it.
Treating Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
If you’ve been diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction, your doctor will walk you through your treatment options. At the outset, treatment will focus on conservative care methods, which include:
- Pain Medications
- Physical Therapy
- Stretching Exercises
- Lumbar Support Braces
- Sacroiliac Joint Injections
Many people experience fantastic results from a committed conservative care plan and some minor alterations to daily activities. For those who don’t experience relief, surgery is an option, although it is often viewed as the last resort. Surgery involves fusing the ilium and sacrum, and while it is a generally successful surgery, full recovery can take up to six months. For this reason, surgery is only recommended for individuals who have failed to find relief after months of conservative care methods.