If you experience sharp, radiating pain in your pelvis, hips, lower back or even down to your thighs, you may be experiencing sacroiliac (SI) joint pain. For those with chronic lower back pain, SI joints can often be a major contributor.
Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments affecting adults in the United States. Of those with persistent symptoms of acute lower back pain, 20 percent develop chronic lower back pain after one year.
There are several causes of lower back pain, SI joints being one of them. The good news is that most SI joint pain can be treated with medications and non-surgical therapies. More severe cases of SI joint pain or sacroiliac joint dysfunction may require surgery to relieve the pain.
What Are the Symptoms Associated with SI Joint Pain?
- Lower back pain
- Hip, pelvis and buttocks pain
- Groin pain
- Intense pain upon standing up
- Burning sensation or stiffness in the pelvis
- Radiating pain in the thighs and legs
- Feeling as if the legs may buckle and give out
What Causes SI Joint Pain?
It’s possible some patients will never know the cause of their SI joint pain, but there are common conditions that can aggravate or inflame the SI joints.
- Traumatic injuries (i.e., slips and falls, car accidents, sports injuries, etc.)
- Walking patterns (i.e., leg length discrepancy, fused joints, etc.)
- Osteoarthritis (typically occurs in older adults as joint cartilage wears down)
- Pregnancy (hormones make SI joints more elastic and less stable)
- Gout (severe joint pain due to high levels of uric acid in the body)
- Autoimmune diseases like ankylosing spondylitis (AS) which is an inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine
How Is SI Joint Pain Diagnosed?
Finding the underlying cause of your pain can be a time-consuming process, especially when it comes to SI joints. These joints lie deep in the body and are often difficult to test or examine.
Usually, a doctor will start with these key methods to hopefully reach a diagnosis:
- Review medical history and conduct a physical examination
- Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans or MRIs
- Numbing drugs like lidocaine can be injected to detect the source of the pain
Is SI Joint Pain Preventable?
In most cases, SI joint pain cannot be prevented as its often the result of chronic conditions. It is possible to manage the pain or delay the progression of SI joint pain by exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.
For example, the more weight a patient carries on their stomach, the harder the spine and joints work to keep the body upright. Weight loss is an effective way to reduce stress on the SI joints.
SI Joint Pain Relief and Non-Surgical Treatment Options
- If a certain activity or repetitive motion hurts, stop those activities right away and speak with a doctor.
- You may be prescribed anti-inflammatory pain medications, including nonsteroidal drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Taking those in combination with muscle relaxers can help ease the pain.
- Corticosteroid injections or sacroiliac joint injections may be helpful in reducing joint inflammation and pain.
- A doctor can use nerve treatments to permanently numb the offending nerve so it can no longer send SI joint pain signals to your brain.
- Chiropractic treatment utilizes muscle, bone and joint adjustment techniques to relieve pain and promote healing and function.
- Physical therapy can help you correct bad habits that worsen your situation (like walking with a limp or leaning to one side to avoid the pain). It can also improve joint flexibility and strengthen your muscles.
- Massage, stretching and hot and cold treatments can also help you manage SI joint pain.
When Does SI Joint Pain Necessitate Surgery?
Surgery is typically a last resort when it comes to SI joint pain. If you’ve tried less invasive treatment options like physical therapy or sacroiliac joint injections, a doctor may recommend sacroiliac joint fusion surgery. A surgeon will perform the procedure using small screws and plates to help the ilium and sacrum fuse together.
Sacroiliac joint fusion is known to bring stability to the joints and greatly reduce SI joint pain, but it does permanently limit overall movement and flexibility once the bones are fused together.
Noninvasive SI Joint Pain Treatment in Georgia
Stop living with your SI joint pain and seek treatment at AllSpine Laser and Surgery Center. Our experienced surgeons take great care to provide non-invasive treatments to patients in Georgia who are suffering from SI joint pain but want to avoid surgery.
You can learn more about sacroiliac joint injections by browsing our website. Call us at (770) 997-0600 to schedule an appointment.