What is sacroiliac joint pain?

The SI joints are situated between the sacrum and the iliac bones, connecting the spine to the hips. The two joints provide support and stability, also play a major role in absorbing impact while walking and lifting. Looking from the backside, the SI joints are located below the waist where two dimples are visible. As we grow older, our bones become arthritic and ligaments stiffen. When our cartilage wears down, our bones might rub together causing severe pain. The SI joint is actually a synovial joint which is filled with the fluid. This type of joint has free nerve endings that can cause chronic pain if the joint degenerates or does not move properly.

Sacroiliac joint pain ranges between mild to severe depending upon the extent and cause of injury. Acute SI joint pain happens suddenly and usually heals within several days to weeks. Chronic SI joint pain stays for more than three months; it may be felt all the time or worsen with certain activities.

What are the symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of SI pain initiates in the lower back and buttock, and may radiate to the lower hip, groin or upper thigh. While the pain is usually one sided, it can occur on both sides. Patients might also feel numbness or tingling in the leg or a feeling of weakness in the leg.Symptoms may worsen whilewalking or climbing stairs. Usually the SI joint is painful sitting or sleeping on the affected side.

What are the causes?

This can occur as the result of a fall, work injury, car accident, pregnancy and childbirth, or hip/spine surgery.Sacroiliac joint pain can also occur when movement in the pelvis is not the same on both sides. Uneven movement may occur when one leg is longer or weaker than the other, or with arthritis in the hip or knee problems.

What treatments are available?

  • Nonsurgical treatments
  • Joint injections
  • Nerve ablations
  • Surgery

Recovery and prevention:

  • A positive attitude, regular activity, and a prompt return to work are all very important elements of recovery. If regular job duties cannot be performed initially, modified (light or restricted) duty may be prescribed for a limited time.
  • Prevention is key to avoiding recurrence
  • Proper lifting techniques
  • Proper posture while sitting, standing, moving, and sleeping
  • Regular exercise with stretching /strengthening
  • An ergonomic work area
  • Good nutrition, healthy weight, lean body mass
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques
  • No smoking


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