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Sacroiliac Joint Pain

The sacroiliac joint connects the spine to hips. It is located between the sacrum and hip bones on each side of the spine. The joint provides support and stability, and helps absorb impact from walking, running and lifting the leg and hip. 

What is sacroiliac joint pain?

Sacroiliac joint pain can occur as a result of a sudden (acute) injury or damage to the joint overtime (chronic pain). As we age, the cartilage that holds our joints together becomes stiffs or wears away. This may cause bones to rub against each other, causing pain at the joint – including the sacroiliac joint.

Pain is often felt in the low back and down to the buttocks. Sometimes, pain is confused with other conditions such as a herniated disc in the low back or hip problems.

Acute pain, caused by injury, often heals within days or weeks. Chronic pain, however, lasts for three or more months and can significantly impact daily activities. 

What are symptoms of sacroiliac joint pain?

Pain is the most common symptom of damage to the sacroiliac joint. Other symptoms may include:

  • Pain the radiates to the lower hip, groin or upper thigh
  • Numbness or tingling in the leg
  • Weakness in the leg
  • Symptoms that worsens with sitting, standing, walking, sleeping or climbing stairs

How is sacroiliac joint pain treated?

There are many approaches to treating sacroiliac joint pain. Treatment options range from rest to minimally invasive surgical procedures. Your doctor will discuss the treatment that’s right for you depending on the severity of the damage to the joint. 

Pain management

The goal of pain management is to help improve symptoms and alleviate your discomfort. Your doctor may also discuss other pain relief options, including prescription medication, cortisone injections or nerve blocks. Closely follow your physician’s instructions and read all medication labels to ensure you are taking medicine safely and effectively.

Physical therapy 

Physical therapy for sacroiliac joint pain includes exercises that strengthen your back, hips, legs and core. Your physical therapist will also show you how to adapt every day activities to reduce painful symptoms and prevent additional damage to the joint. 

Do I need surgery for sacroiliac joint pain?

Your doctor may recommend surgical approaches to help the address joint damage. Minimally invasive joint fusion surgery can help repair cartilage and improve your range of motion. During the procedure, your surgeon will place titanium implants and bone grafts to stabilize your joint and encourage bone growth. 

How is sacroiliac joint pain diagnosed?

Sacroiliac joint pain can be diagnosed with a physical examination by your provider. Your doctor will ask you how long you have been experiencing pain, review your medical history and examine your spine and hips. 

Imaging tests, such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scan, may also be needed to identify the location and severity of the compression fracture. Be sure to discuss these options with your provider. Some insurance plans have pre-requisites that need to be met before imaging can be ordered.