What is the Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Pain: Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatment
Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain*, a formidable challenge causing discomfort in the lower back, buttocks, or legs, requires effective treatment. Be it the aftermath of traumatic incidents, biomechanical intricacies, hormonal shifts, inflammatory joint disease, or age-related wear and tear, understanding what is the treatment for sacroiliac joint pain becomes crucial. Let’s navigate through the intricacies of SI joint pain, exploring its symptoms, root causes, diagnostic procedures, and the most recent treatment options available.
*An important note is that some physicians may also refer to SI joint dysfunction by other terms like sacroiliitis, SI joint inflammation, SI joint syndrome, and SI joint strain.
Understanding SI Joint Pain
SI joint pain stems from structural changes or shifts in the relative positions of the sacrum and pelvis. Ligament damage, whether from wear and tear or injury, can lead to excessive motion, inflaming and disrupting the joint and surrounding nerves. Commonly referred to as sacroiliitis, SI joint inflammation, or SI joint strain, this condition often manifests as pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs, with symptoms mimicking sciatica.
Causes of SI Joint Dysfunction
The causes of SI joint dysfunction can be split into five categories:
- Traumatic (lifting, fall, accident)
- Biomechanical (leg length discrepancy, prior lumbar fusion)
- Hormonal (pregnancy/childbirth)
- Inflammatory joint disease (sacroiliitis)
- Degeneration (age-related wear and tear)
Diagnosing SI joint Dysfunction
Diagnosis involves a comprehensive approach, including a history, physical examination, and imaging techniques like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. Additionally, diagnostic SI joint injections can provide valuable insights, where the injection of a numbing medication helps determine if the SI joints are the source of pain. Proper diagnosis leads to finally answering the question what is the treatment for sacroiliac joint pain?
Treatment Options for Sacroiliac (SI) Dysfunction
Treatments can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and how much they limit your everyday activities. Below are some of the SI joint pain treatment options you may want to discuss with your doctor, depending on your symptoms.
Nonsurgical Treatment for SI Joint Dysfunction
As the first line of treatment, your doctor may prescribe any one or more of the following:
- Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, help relieve pain and reduce inflammation
- Physical therapy can help provide strengthening and pelvic stabilization exercises to reduce the movement in the SI joint
- SI Belt wraps around the hips to help squeeze the sacroiliac joints together. This supports and stabilizes the pelvis and sacroiliac joints
- SI joint injections can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. The steroid medication is injected into the back
- Chiropractic treatment
Surgical Treatment of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
If symptoms persist due to instability, your physician may recommend stabilizing your joint with sacroiliac joint fixation.
Traditional Open Surgery
Traditional sacroiliac joint fixation involves open surgery that may take several hours, but is another option for SI joint pain treatment. Open surgery typically involves a large incision to access the SI joint, conduct bone removal, and add in a bone graft to help the joint heal. Open surgery usually translates into several days of hospitalization.
Minimally Invasive Procedure
Orthopaedic Center of the Rockies (OCR) offers a relatively new treatment for SI joint pain—the iFuse Implant System®. This minimally invasive procedure involves three small titanium implants inserted surgically across the SI joint. With minimal incision size, immediate post-operative stabilization, and a potentially quicker recovery, the iFuse procedure presents significant advantages over traditional SI joint surgery.
The iFuse procedure offers several benefits compared to traditional SI joint treatment and surgery such as:
- Minimal incision size
- Immediate post-operative stabilization
- Minimal soft tissue stripping
- A potentially quicker recovery
Leading this innovative stride in Northern Colorado is Dr. Gerlach, the first and only surgeon in Boulder County and the Northwest Denver regions to complete several SI joint procedures. The outcomes have been remarkable, marking a significant advancement in si joint pain treatment(s).
If you’re grappling with back pain in the morning or at any time, OCR’s expert physicians are ready to provide comprehensive assessments and tailored treatment plans for si joint dysfunction. Don’t let SI joint pain limit your life—schedule an appointment today.