Commonly misdiagnosed as sciatica or lumbar disc herniation, SI joint dysfunction is one of most common causes of lower back pain. Getting the proper diagnosis and treatment starts with understanding what the SI joint is, what it does, and what symptoms become present when it starts to deteriorate.
What Is The SI Joint and What Does It Do?
Located at the base of the spine, the sacroiliac nerve serves three primary functions. First, it connects the sacrum (a triangular bone located at the base of the spine) with the pelvis. Second, it transmits the upper body’s forces to the pelvis and legs. Lastly, it acts an important shock absorber.
What Causes SI Joint Pain?
Most commonly found in young and middle-aged women, SI joint pain can be the result of too much or too little movement. Hypermobility (or instability) is the term used to describe pain caused by too much movement in the joints. This pain is generally felt in the lower back and can radiate up into the hip bones. Hypomobility (or fixation) is the term used to describe pain caused by too little motion in the joints. This pain is generally felt on one side and is located in the buttocks with some radiation down the leg.
How Is SI Dysfunction Diagnosed?
Proper diagnosis of SI dysfunction is generally achieved through a physical exam and a pain-blocking injection. During a physical exam, a joint specialist will try to determine if the SI joint is the cause of the pain by examining the effects of movement on the area. If they’re able to recreate the pain through movement, and no other explanation is found, SI joint dysfunction is likely the cause of the pain. If a physical exam cannot accurately pinpoint the SI joint as the cause of the pain, the specialist may opt to perform a sacroiliac joint block. In this procedure, the physician uses an x-ray to guide them as they inject a numbing agent in the SI joint. If the pain ceases, SI dysfunction is the most probable cause of the pain and treatment options can be discussed.
How Is SI Dysfunction Treated?
Most often, SI dysfunction is treated non-surgically and focuses on restoring movement to the area. This can be done through a number of methods. Treatment options include the following techniques.
Ice, heat, and rest periods
Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
Supports and braces
SI Joint Injections for pain management
Finding A Joint Specialist For Your Pain
If you’re experiencing prolonged lower back pain that has not responded to over the counter medications, call New Jersey Joints to speak with a specialist and request an appointment. Our team will review your medical history, examine you, and properly diagnose and treat SI pain quickly and effectively. We look forward to hearing from you!