Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction as a Source of Back Pain: Evaluation and Treatment

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Lower back pain is common, but identifying the cause of your pain isn’t always simple. Learn the signs of sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, a commonly overlooked diagnosis, and find a treatment plan that relieves your symptoms.

About 80% of people suffer lower back pain in their lifetimes. It’s a leading type of chronic pain — but unfortunately, identifying the root cause and finding effective care isn’t always easy.

Arthritis, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis are just a few of the most common causes behind lower back pain. When you go to the doctor for back pain, you might get screenings or even a diagnosis for one of these conditions — but what if your pain is caused by something that’s not quite as obvious?

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction can also cause lower back pain. And all too often, it’s overlooked or misdiagnosed as something else, and your symptoms continue even after you’ve tried other treatments.

Maher Ibrahim, MD, and our team at Interventional Pain Management Associates can help. We specialize in comprehensive pain evaluations, and we’re here to find an SI joint dysfunction treatment plan that works for you.

How to identify SI joint dysfunction

Your SI joints connect your spine to your pelvis. You have two SI joints, one on either side of your spine, and the joints consist of your sacrum (a triangular bone at the bottom of your spine) and your iliac crests (hip bones).

While SI joints are joints, they don’t have as much mobility as other joints in your body. They only move a little bit as needed to absorb shock and help you bend backward or forward.

Healthy SI joints don’t cause symptoms. But sometimes, these joints can get irritated or inflamed. 

The most common symptoms of SI joint dysfunction are:

  • Lower back pain
  • Buttocks pain
  • Radiating pain in the groin, legs, or feet

Your symptoms may worsen with certain activities, like:

  • Climbing stairs
  • Running
  • Sitting for long periods
  • Standing for long periods
  • Standing with more weight on one leg than the other

The symptoms of SI joint dysfunction mimic those of other spine conditions, including lumbar herniated discs and sciatica. If you think you might have SI joint dysfunction or other spinal condition, book an appointment with a pain management specialist like Dr. Ibrahim for a professional evaluation.

Dr. Ibrahim typically diagnoses SI joint dysfunction with a comprehensive physical exam. He reviews your symptoms and medical history along with the exam. In some cases, he may use a nerve block injection to isolate the pain and confirm your diagnosis.

Your treatment options for SI joint dysfunction

Once he evaluates and diagnoses your condition, Dr. Ibrahim may recommend a range of treatment options. 

Conservative care typically includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Pain relieving medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Ice and/or heat therapy
  • Rest

If you still have pain or other symptoms after trying conservative treatments, Dr. Ibrahim may suggest SI joint injections. Joint injections are minimally invasive, and they effectively block SI joint pain for many patients.

Dr. Ibrahim uses X-ray imaging to guide the injections. Each shot contains an anesthetic or steroid to reduce inflammation and pain, and results are often immediate. If you’re happy with the pain relief you get from SI joint injections, we can do up to three each year.

Most people find that a combination of treatments and lifestyle modifications help relieve their SI joint pain. To find out more about the condition, schedule an evaluation at Interventional Pain Management Associates in Hamilton, New Jersey. Call 609-757-9860 or book online now.