Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction might be a mouthful (and a huge pain over the buttocks) but it should be a household name. In fact, the condition is common enough that physicians estimate that up to 15 percent of all people with back pain are experiencing sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Yet many sufferers go undiagnosed.

Woman practicing yoga

What is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?

The simple answer is that sacroiliac joint dysfunction (also known as SI joint pain) is pain in the lower back at the base of your spine and across the top of the pelvic bones.

The sacroiliac joints connect the pelvis to either side of the spine. While these joints have only a small amount of motion, they carry the entire weight of your upper body when you are standing.

Time and weight gain are not friends to our body’s weight-bearing joints. When the cartilage covering the sacroiliac joints degenerates and the bones rub each other, SI joint pain usually results. Pregnancy also causes SI joint pain as the ligaments holding the joints in place relax for childbirth.

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What does SI Joint Pain feel like?

SI joint pain is usually an ache in the lower back, often sharp, sometimes dull. The pain can spread across the buttocks, hips, thighs and even groin. It is typically worse when going from sitting to standing. Using the stairs and stooping (like climbing into a car) can exacerbate SI joint pain. The sensation is in direct contrast with sciatica, which tends to feel like an electric shock of pain.

How is it diagnosed?

Some physicians will take an x-ray, but a patient history and exam are best. Tenderness to palpitation over the SI joint and a manipulation of the legs to pressure the joint can usually confirm the presence of SI joint dysfunction.

Can SI Joint Pain be treated?

No need to suffer in silence. There are stretching and stabilizing exercises a physical therapist can show you to help reduce pain. Many people report improvement through yoga or Pilates, which strengthen core muscles and help support the joints. If over-the-counter and prescription anti-inflammatories don’t prove helpful, pain management specialists like Lonseth Interventional Pain Center can administer a sacroiliac joint steroid injection that may provide long-term relief.

Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent SI joint pain (and a host of other joint issues too!)