Sacroiliac Joint Pain
What is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?
Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of one or both of your sacroiliac joints — situated where your lower spine and pelvis connect. Sacroiliitis can cause pain in your buttocks or lower back, and can extend down one or both legs. Prolonged standing or stair climbing can worsen the pain. Sacroiliitis can be difficult to diagnose, because it can be mistaken for other causes of low back pain. It’s been linked to a group of diseases that cause inflammatory arthritis of the spine.
What Are The Symptoms?
The pain associated with sacroiliitis most commonly occurs in the buttocks and lower back. It can also affect the legs, groin and even the feet.
Sacroiliitis pain can be aggravated by:
- Prolonged standing
- Bearing more weight on one leg than the other
- Stair climbing
- Taking large strides
What Are The Causes?
Causes for sacroiliac joint dysfunction include:
- Traumatic injury. A sudden impact, such as a motor vehicle accident or a fall, can damage your sacroiliac joints.
- Arthritis. Wear-and-tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) can occur in sacroiliac joints, as can ankylosing spondylitis — a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine.
- Pregnancy. The sacroiliac joints must loosen and stretch to accommodate childbirth. The added weight and altered gait during pregnancy can cause additional stress on these joints and can lead to abnormal wear.
- Infection. In rare cases, the sacroiliac joint can become infected.
What Are The Treatments?
Treatment depends on your signs and symptoms, as well as the cause of your sacroiliitis.
Depending on the cause of your pain, your doctor might recommend:
- Pain relievers. If over-the-counter pain medications don’t provide enough relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger versions of these drugs.
- Muscle relaxants. Medications such as cyclobenzaprine (Amrix, Fexmid) might help reduce the muscle spasms often associated with sacroiliitis.
Your doctor or physical therapist can help you learn range-of-motion and stretching exercises to maintain joint flexibility, and strengthening exercises to make your muscles more stable.
If other methods haven’t relieved your pain, you doctor might suggest:
- Joint injections. Corticosteroids can be injected into the joint to reduce inflammation and pain. You can get only a few joint injections a year because the steroids can weaken your joint’s bones and tendons.
- Radiofrequency denervation. Radiofrequency energy can damage or destroy the nerve tissue causing your pain.
- Electrical stimulation. Implanting an electrical stimulator into the sacrum might help reduce pain caused by sacroiliitis.