Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint connects the lower part of the spine (the sacrum) with the bones of the pelvis.

CAUSES

Sometimes, there is no obvious reason for sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Other times, it may occur

  • During pregnancy.

  • After injury, such as:

  • Car accidents.

  • Sport-related injuries.

  • Work-related injuries.

  • Due to one leg being shorter than the other.

  • Due to other conditions that affect the joints, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Gout.

  • Psoriasis.

  • Joint infection (septic arthritis).

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the:

  • Lower back.

  • Buttocks.

  • Groin.

  • Thighs and legs.

  • Difficult sitting, standing, walking, lying, bending or lifting.

DIAGNOSIS

A number of tests may be used to help diagnose the cause of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, including:

  • Imaging tests to look for other causes of pain, including:

  • MRI.

  • CT scan.

  • Bone scan.

  • Diagnostic injection: During a special x-ray (called fluoroscopy), a needle is put into the sacroiliac joint. A numbing medicine is injected into the joint. If the pain is improved or stopped, the diagnosis of sacroiliac joint dysfunction is more likely.

TREATMENT

There are a number of types of treatment used for sacroiliac joint dysfunction, including:

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Medications to relax muscles.

  • Rest. Decreasing activity can help cut down on painful muscle spasms and allow the back to heal.

  • Application of heat or ice to the lower back may improve muscle spasms and soothe pain.

  • Brace. A special back brace, called a sacroiliac belt, can help support the joint while your back is healing.

  • Physical therapy can help teach comfortable positions and exercises to strengthen muscles that support the sacroiliac joint.

  • Cortisone injections. Injections of steroid medicine into the joint can help decrease swelling and improve pain.

  • Hyaluronic acid injections. This chemical improves lubrication within the sacroiliac joint, thereby decreasing pain.

  • Radiofrequency ablation. A special needle is placed into the joint, where it burns away nerves that are carrying pain messages from the joint.

  • Surgery. Because pain occurs during movement of the joint, screws and plates may be installed in order to limit or prevent joint motion.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take all medications exactly as directed.

  • Follow instructions regarding both rest and physical activity, to avoid worsening the pain.

  • Do physical therapy exercises exactly as prescribed.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You experience increasingly severe pain.

  • You develop new symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in your legs or feet.

  • You lose bladder or bowel control.