SI Joint Pain

What is SI Joint Pain?

The sacroiliac joints (SI) are the foundation of the spine and are located at the junctions of the sacrum and ilium on each side. These complex joints, composed of systems of ligaments and multiplanar joint surfaces, transmit the forces exerted through the spine from the upper body to the legs. The SI joint is designed to absorb shock forces and is naturally constrained to only limited movement. Instability in the SI joint is a major pain generator in some patients. Although there have been many advances in surgical techniques to address instability problems in the lumbar spine, instability in the SI joint has remained relatively unaddressed, with most patients running out of options once conservative treatments have failed to offer continued relief from painful SI symptoms.

Causes of SI Joint Instability and Pain

  • Prior injury or accident
  • Postpartum pelvic girdle pain
  • Ligamentous loosening due to pregnancy
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Low back instability or prior low back surgery

Common Sacroiliac Joint Pain Symptoms:

  • Lower back pain (below L5)
  • Sensation in lower extremity: pain, numbness, tingling, weakness
  • Pelvis/buttock pain
  • Hip/groin pain
  • Feeling of leg instability (buckling, giving way)
  • Disturbed sleep patterns due to pain
  • Disturbed sitting patterns (unable to sit for long periods, sitting on one side)
  • Pain going from sitting to standing

SI Joint

When is the SI Joint an Issue?

Several studies have discussed the SI joint’s role in patients experiencing non-specific or generalized lower back pain. Up until recently, there were very few tests that doctors could conduct to specifically diagnose pain stemming from the SI joint. Symptoms of SI joint conditions are often very similar to those of lower back pain which can make diagnosing very difficult. Although the SI joint is one of the smaller joints of your body it can still be injured and/or become degenerative just like any other joint.

SI Joint Pain Treatments

  • NSAIDs
  • Physical Therapy
  • Pain Management Evaluation and Intervention
    • Medications
    • Therapeutic Injections
    • Radio-frequency Ablation (RFA)
  • SI Joint Fusion