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sacroiliac joing

Low Back Pain? It Might Be Caused by Your Sacroiliac Joints

By: Vikram Arora, DO   December 4, 2018
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Does your lower back hurt unexpectedly when you stand up from your desk? Do you have a weird ache, but only on one side? Your sacroiliac joints might be inflamed.

Your sacroiliac joints (SIJ) are an important link between your lower spine and pelvis. The SIJ connect the hip bones (iliac crests) to the sacrum. Unlike many joints in the human body, the SIJ have very little motion. The primary function of the SIJ are to act as a shock absorber between the upper and lower body, including the pelvis. 

The SIJ can be a common cause of low back, buttock, and thigh pain. Numbers can vary, but it is believed that the SIJ are responsible for approximately 20-30% of all cases of low back pain. The SIJ can start to cause pain if there is too much, or too little, movement in the joint. SIJ pain can present due to abnormal gait patterns, prior surgery, repetitive stress on the joint, and pregnancy/child birth. The pain due to the SIJ can be felt in the low back, buttock, and groin and may even radiate down the leg. SIJ pain can be seen in any age group or gender, but does occur more frequently in young and middle-aged women. 

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of SIJ can be difficult. Unfortunately, no single physical examination maneuver is able to diagnose SIJ pain. Your doctor must utilize multiple maneuvers to identify your pain and often will recommend an injection to aid in an accurate diagnosis. 

Treatment Options

Treatment options for SIJ pain include medications, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and injections. Injections can be done under image guidance into the joint or to the nerves that supply the joint. Surgical options can include fusion of the SIJ to stabilize the joints so they don’t move too much. It is important that your doctor be skilled in the treatment and diagnosis of SIJ pain. If not treated correctly, SIJ pain can become a disabling and chronic condition. 

Dr. Vikram Arora is a physiatrist specializing in non-operative treatments for spine pain.

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Keywords

back pain, orthopedics, physiatry