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What Is Sacroiliac Joint Pain and What Can You Do About It?

May 12, 2022

Sacroiliac joint pain is the pain that some people feel in the low back and buttock region. The pain comes as a result of an injury to the joint between your spine and your pelvis.

One of the biggest problems with this type of pain lies in the fact that it gives similar symptoms to herniated disc or even hip problems. As such, it is quite difficult for a layman to give a proper diagnosis, even if you are experiencing these symptoms. With this in mind and without further ado, here’s what you need to know about sacroiliac (SI) joint pain.

What Are the Causes of Sacroiliac Pain?

More often than not, sacroiliac pain is caused by an injury. As a result of a fall, work injury, car accident, your ligaments may become either too loose or too tight. This causes the damage. In some cases, even childbirth or pregnancy may give similar results.

Uneven movement in the pelvis (not the same on both sides) also occurs if one leg is longer than the other.

In cases where there’s arthritis of the knee present, a person may walk irregularly, which will cause a similar phenomenon. The same may occur with a hip injury, as well.

There are also reports of autoimmune diseases causing sacroiliac joint pain. One example of this is axial spondyloarthritis.

Regardless of the cause, sacroiliac joint disease is a serious problem and you need to see a professional as soon as possible.

What Are The Most Common Sacroiliac Joint Pain Symptoms?

As the very name of the disease implies, the strongest symptom is pain. However, the way to distinguish this pain from all other types is to trace it to the area it originates from and try to recognize its nature.

The most common epicenters of this pain are:

  • Lower back
  • Buttocks
  • Hips
  • Pelvis
  • Groin

In some cases, only one SI joint will be affected, which makes the diagnosis slightly more likely. Moreover, the pain itself will be a lot more intense when standing up from a sitting position. This will put the joint under more duress, which will only intensify the pain.

Moreover, the pain is not the only symptom of SI joint pain. In the affected area, you’re just as likely to feel stiffness, numbness, or weakness. Some affected people even report a burning sensation in this general area.

Still, each of these symptoms may have other causes which can often be quite misleading. This is why the only reliable way to tell if this is the case would be to look for specialist spine doctors (physiatrist) and surgeons and ask for a professional diagnosis.

What Does the Treatment of SI Pain Look Like?

So, now that you know that you have a problem with sacroiliac joint pain, what are you going to do about it? Here are several options you want to consider.

Sacroiliac joint pain relief through nonoperative and operative means

When it comes to treatment, there are some procedures that can help alleviate the pain in question. First, however, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with, which is why you want to start with NSAIDs and PT. 

The most common procedure is the joint injection of corticosteroids. This is one of the quickest ways to reduce both inflammation and pain. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that this should never be done without a doctor’s order. Moreover, it’s not smart to get more than a few injections per year.

One of the most common ways of treating this issue is through physical therapy. Once again, looking up exercises online and just proceeding on your own is not necessarily the best course of action. What you need is professional input, which means going to a physical therapist (at least early on).

Some procedures for the treatment of sacroiliac joint pain involve the use of electrical stimulation of the area performed by a physical therapist.

In some of the most extreme of cases, a procedure such as joint fusion may be the best way to go. This is the scenario in which two bones are fused together with metal hardware. Although it may sound a bit extreme, the truth is that it’s a routine procedure and quite effective at alleviating the pain.

Sacroiliac joint pain exercises 

Making the muscles surrounding affected joints stronger will put less pressure on the joints themselves. Some of the exercises known to relieve sacroiliac pain are:

  • Glute exercises
  • Lower trunk rotation
  • Hamstring stretches
  • Both knees to chest

Then again, there are some exercises that will only make the situation worse. So, for anyone suffering from this disease, exercises to avoid are usually ones that involve jumping, skipping, and crossing your legs.

There are even some sexual positions that people suffering from SI pain should avoid. These are mostly positions that put pressure on one of your sides more than another.

Sacroiliac joint pain and medication 

As far as medication goes, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

In order to treat the symptoms, you can go for some pain relievers. Look for over-the-counter medication but if that doesn’t work, you should probably ask your doctor for some stronger medication.

Second, you can look for a medication that can help your muscles relax. By reducing muscle spasms, you’ll be able to avoid quite a bit of pain caused by SI.

In some cases, even TNF (tumor necrosis factor) inhibitors are known to help.

Wrap Up

In the end, sacroiliac joint pain is easy to recognize but hard to live with. Even if the pain is not crippling, it will cause quite a bit of stress on your body – stress that your body definitely doesn’t need. Moreover, it leads to a diminished quality of life which is not something that you should settle for. So, if you are suffering from pain in the lower back and buttocks area and you suspect that the source of your predicament is indeed SI pain, make sure to head straight to your doctor.

If you want to know more, make sure to contact our team of doctors and spine surgeons at The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey.