Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction can cause pain in the lower back and spine, buttock, pelvis, and groin area or even in the legs. The condition, if chronic, may have a severe impact on your quality of life, making it hard to go about your daily routine.

What is sacroiliac joint dysfunction?

SI joint dysfunction is inflammation of one or both of your sacroiliac joints, which are situated where your lower spine and pelvis connect (directly beneath the dimples in your lower back). The condition is often difficult to diagnose as it can be mistaken for other causes of lower back pain.

SI joint problems are also referred to as SI joint disease, SI joint syndrome, SI joint strain, and SI joint inflammation, and each is linked to the cause of the SI joint pain.

What causes sacroiliac joint dysfunction?

Disfunction in your SI joint can have a range of causes including:

  • Pregnancy, as the ligaments in the pelvis stretch in preparation for childbirth along with the weight gain that accompanies pregnancy, there is additional wear on the cartilage, which can lead to an inflammation of the SI joints.
  • Injury, a hard impact such as a fall, car accident, or sporting injury can strain or tear ligaments in the SI joint.
  • Hypermobility, if the ligaments connecting the sacrum to the pelvis are too loose, there is too much movement and instability in the SI joints.
  • Arthritis, degenerative joint diseases cause deterioration in the SI joints as the condition wears down the cartilage, and the fluid in the joints (which reduces friction during movement) becomes inflamed.
  • Uneven leg length, if one leg is weaker or shorter than the other, there may be irregular movement in the pelvis that can trigger SI joint dysfunction.
  • After spinal surgery, if you have reduced movement in the lumbar spine after a surgical procedure such as a laminectomy or a lumbar fusion, the SI joint may attempt to overcompensate and become inflamed.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, this disease causes inflammation between the vertebrae and facet joints as well as between the spine and pelvis. This can lead to the fusing of SI joints and may cause SI joint dysfunction.

What are the symptoms?

Pain is the most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction, and most commonly occurs in the lower back and buttocks, although it can also affect the legs, groin, and feet.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Joint swelling, stiffness, tenderness, and warmth
  • Limping and weakness
  • Reduced range of motion

The condition can be aggravated by:

  • Standing or walking for extended periods
  • Climbing stairs
  • Running
  • Taking large paces
  • Favoring one leg and using it to bear more weight

When should you see a doctor?

If you have prolonged pain in your back and buttocks, you should seek the advice of a doctor. They will take a medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam that identifies whether SI joint dysfunction is at the root of your pain. They may also need X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI to identify inflammation in the SI joint.

Make an appointment

If you have chronic, ongoing back pain, it’s important to make an appointment with a doctor who has specific experience in treating back conditions. The team at Northwest Surgical Specialists has the necessary expertise to diagnose and treat your condition to effectively relieve pain and help restore your quality of life.