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Understanding Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction and Pain

sacroiliac joint                                                                                  Image credit – wikimedia.org

The sacroiliac (SI) joint is a diarthrodial joint. The prime role of the SI joint is to transfer the weight of the upper body to the lower extremities.

This joint connects the triangular bone (sacrum) at the bottom of the spine with the pelvis, iliac bone that is part of the hip joint (lower spine).

The anatomy of the SI joint is an articular surface that is ear shaped, with irregular ridges and depressions. This joint helps to transfer the forces of the upper body to the pelvis and legs. Although there is much debate, The joint undergoes little motion but is very strong and stable.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction symptoms

The sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction is characterized by low back pain or deep Butt pain but associated with

  • A radiating pain down the sciatic nerve and pain reaches the foot
  • A sharp pain in the thigh or buttock
  • Pain that generally occurs at one side of the body and is commonly found in young children and middle age women.

Why sacroiliac joint dysfunction occurs?

  • There is no defined reason for the sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The pain is caused by damage or injury to the joint between the spine and hip.
  • Sacroiliac pain can be related to other clinical conditions, such as a herniated disc or hip problem.

Treatments for sacroiliac joint dysfunction

Rest, and ice and heat therapy

  • Treatments for sacroiliac joint dysfunction are conservative, non-surgical procedures.
  • It focusses on restoring normal motion in the joint.
  • Initially use of ice or cold packs, applied in 15 to 20-minute intervals to reduce inflammation in the area, along with rest to reduce irritation.
  • Depending on the intensity of the pain, ice therapy can be followed for 2 weeks. Heat therapy by using a heat wrap or hot bath may help the healing process, but not for high intense pain.

Medication and injection

  • The pain killers like ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen is prescribed as the initial treatment for SI joint pain to reduce the swelling and irritation.
  • For immediate pain relief, an anesthetic such as lidocaine or bupivacaine, or nova Caine is injected along with an anti-inflammatory medication (corticosteroid) to reduce inflammation around the joint. This will help alleviate the pain and can help the patient start with a physical therapy program.

Physical therapy and SI pain

  • Physical therapy greatly eases stress on SI joints. A gentle exercise routine practiced consistently will improve the flexibility in the SI joint.
  • A physical therapist creates a customized exercise routine according to the intensity of the pain.
  • Physical therapists focus on three type of exercise, stretching, strengthening for flexibility and aerobic, especially for those who suffers from SI joint dysfunction.