Sacroiliac joint pain is an often overlooked source of persistent back pain that affects daily life. Situated in the lower back and connecting the sacrum and the ilium, the sacroiliac joints play a crucial role in supporting the spine and transferring weight between the upper body and legs. In this article, Dr. Bradley Silva, MD, double board-certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, delves into the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for sacroiliac joint pain to help you understand and manage this condition.
Symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Sacroiliac joint pain presents itself through various symptoms that can mimic other lower back issues. Common signs include:
- Low Back Pain: Dull or sharp pain in the lower back that might radiate to the hips, buttocks, or thighs.
- Hip Pain: Pain or discomfort in the hip area, often felt on one side of the body.
- Leg Pain: Pain that travels down the leg, resembling sciatica, but often stopping at the knee.
- Stiffness: A feeling of stiffness or limited range of motion in the lower back, hips, or pelvis.
- Pain Aggravation: Pain might worsen with certain movements like walking, standing, or transitioning from sitting to standing.
Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Sacroiliac joint pain can arise from various factors, and pinpointing the exact cause can be challenging. Some common contributors include:
- Joint Dysfunction: When the sacroiliac joint doesn't move correctly, it can lead to inflammation, irritation, and pain.
- Arthritis: Degenerative arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis can cause inflammation and deterioration of the sacroiliac joints.
- Injury or Trauma: Accidents, falls, or trauma can damage the ligaments around the sacroiliac joints, leading to pain.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and increased stress on the sacroiliac joints during pregnancy can cause pain.
- Gait Imbalances: Walking or running with an uneven gait can contribute to sacroiliac joint pain over time.
Treatment Options for Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Effectively managing sacroiliac joint pain requires a multifaceted approach tailored to the individual. Here are some common treatment strategies:
- Rest and Ice: Resting the affected area and applying ice packs can help reduce inflammation and ease pain.
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design exercises to strengthen the muscles around the sacroiliac joints, promoting stability and flexibility.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide temporary relief from sacroiliac joint pain. In more severe cases, prescription medications may be necessary.
- Injections: Corticosteroid injections directly into the joint can offer significant pain relief by reducing inflammation.
- Chiropractic or Manual Therapy: Manipulative techniques performed by a chiropractor or physical therapist can help improve joint movement.
- Sacroiliac Belts: Wearing a supportive belt can stabilize the joint and alleviate pain during movement.
- Surgery: Surgical intervention is rarely necessary and is typically considered if other treatments fail to provide relief.
Recognizing the symptoms, understanding the potential causes, and exploring the available treatment options are essential steps toward managing this condition effectively. If sacroiliac joint pain persists or worsens, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan. By addressing the pain and its underlying causes, you can work towards reclaiming comfort and maintaining an active, pain-free lifestyle.
At Lakeshore Pain and Spine Center, we work with patients suffering from conditions like sacroiliac joint pain to develop treatment plans to help ease pain and improve quality of life. Whether you’re dealing with sacroiliac joint pain or other pain conditions, call us at 262-484-4035 or request an appointment online.