PUBLISHED05/12/2023

Treatment of sacroiliac joint dysfunction or SI joint pain performed by osteopathic doctor


If you’re experiencing pain, stiffness, or discomfort in your lower back, hips, or groin, take a seat and read on.

In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of SI joint dysfunction with a clear explanation of what SI joint dysfunction is and its common symptoms. We’ll also delve into the diagnostic process, including the tests healthcare providers use to determine if you’re dealing with SI joint dysfunction.

Finally, we’ll provide an overview of the various treatment options available, including anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, sacroiliac joint pain injections, radiofrequency ablation, and fusion surgeries. In addition, we’ll provide insights on how to prevent SI joint dysfunction using lifestyle changes such as practicing good posture, engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and using proper lifting techniques.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of SI joint dysfunction and how to manage and prevent its symptoms.

What Is SI Joint Dysfunction

The SI joint connects the sacrum bone located at the base of the spine to the ilium bone of the pelvis. It’s surrounded by a network of connective tissues and muscles that work together to facilitate movement in the lower back and hips. When the SI joint becomes dysfunctional, it can cause pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the lower back, hips, or groin.

SI joint dysfunction is a condition where the sacroiliac joint loses its ability to move correctly, causing inflammation and pain.

A hip bone graphic overlay on womens body to show location of the sacroiliac joint.

Causes of SI Joint Dysfunction

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort in your lower back and hips, the culprit might be a condition known as SI joint dysfunction. This condition can make it difficult to perform daily activities, exercise, and take part in the things you enjoy.

Several factors can cause SI joint dysfunction, including trauma, arthritis, pregnancy, poor posture, and genetics.

Trauma, such as a fall or an injury, can damage the SI joint and lead to dysfunction. This can result in inflammation, pain, and a reduction in mobility. In some cases, trauma-related SI joint dysfunction can be treated with rest, medication, or physical therapy.

Arthritis is another common cause of SI joint dysfunction and can develop as part of the natural aging process. Arthritis affects the cartilage in your joints, which can wear down over time, leading to inflammation and pain.

Pregnancy can also cause SI joint dysfunction due to increased pressure on the muscles and joints in the pelvic region. The hormone relaxin, which relaxes the ligaments in preparation for childbirth, can also loosen the SI joint, leading to dysfunction. This can result in pain and discomfort in the lower back and hip area.

Poor posture, such as sitting for prolonged periods or standing with a curved back, can also put stress on the SI joint. Over time, this can cause damage and lead to dysfunction.

Finally, genetics may also play a role in the development of SI joint dysfunction. If you have a family history of arthritis, for example, you may be at a higher risk of developing SI joint dysfunction.

It’s important to identify the underlying cause of your SI joint dysfunction to receive the appropriate treatment. Treatment options may include physical therapy, medication, injections, or even surgery if necessary.

By understanding the causes of SI joint dysfunction and seeking the right treatment, you can work towards achieving lasting pain relief and improved mobility.

A woman suffering from arthritis in her hip.

Symptoms of SI Joint Dysfunction

Here are some of the most common symptoms of SI joint dysfunction:

Pain in the lower back and/or hip area: This is the most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction and is often described as a dull or sharp ache in the lower back or hip area. Discomfort may occur on one or both sides of the body.

Pain that radiates down to the legs: In some cases, SI joint dysfunction can cause pain that radiates down to the legs. This is known as radiculopathy and can cause a tingling or numbing sensation.

Stiffness: You may experience stiffness or tightness in the lower back or hip region, making it difficult to perform routine activities like bending or twisting.

Difficulty standing up or sitting down: SI joint dysfunction can make it challenging to stand up from a chair or sit down on a seat. This movement may cause pain and discomfort in the lower back or hips.

It’s important to note that the symptoms of SI joint dysfunction can vary from person to person. Some may experience more severe pain than others, while some may only experience discomfort when performing specific activities.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. Your healthcare provider can perform a physical exam and imaging tests to diagnose the condition accurately. Once diagnosed, you can receive the appropriate treatment to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with SI joint dysfunction.

A xray image showing a region of the sacroiliac joint in the body that is experience si joint dysfunction.

Diagnosis of SI Joint Dysfunction

If you’re experiencing lower back or hip pain, your healthcare provider may recommend undergoing tests to diagnose SI joint dysfunction. The diagnosis process typically involves a physical examination, imaging tests, and diagnostic injection tests.

Physical Examination:

During a physical examination, your healthcare provider will observe your posture and gait, examine your lower back and hip, and ask about your medical history. They may also conduct specific movements, including rotational movements, to assess the mobility of your SI joint.

Imaging Tests:

To confirm a diagnosis, your healthcare provider may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. These tests can reveal any damage or abnormalities in the SI joint and help rule out other underlying conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

Sacroiliac joint diagnostic injection:

In some cases, injections for SI joint dysfunction diagnosis may be necessary to confirm or rule out SI joint dysfunction definitively. So what is an SI Injection test? During this test, a local anesthetic and/or steroid solution will be injected into the joint. If the injection provides significant pain relief, it’s a sign that the SI joint is the source of your pain.

It’s crucial to work with a healthcare provider who understands the complexities of diagnosing SI joint dysfunction. Misdiagnosis frequently occurs, with doctors mistaking the condition for other conditions such as herniated discs, bulging discs, or even sciatica.

A doctor discussing a sacroiliac joint injection with her female patient.

Treatment Options for SI Joint Dysfunction

If you have SI Joint Dysfunction here are several treatment options to help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility.

Here are five treatment options for SI joint dysfunction:

1. Anti-inflammatory medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve inflammation and provide pain relief. However, it’s essential only to use these medications under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

2. Physical therapy: Physical therapy is a critical component of SI joint dysfunction treatment. A physical therapist can work with you to develop an exercise routine to strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility and mobility.

3. Steroid Injection si joint: Sacroiliac joint pain injections are another treatment option for SI joint dysfunction. A needle injects a steroid solution into the SI joint to relieve pain and inflammation. The effects of these injections can last for several weeks to months. These injections for si joint dysfunction are minimally invasive with a short recovery time. Overall the sacroiliac joint injection risks are low and that is why this treatment is considered first before more invasive options.

4. Radiofrequency ablation: Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that involves using heat to destroy nerve fibers that are causing pain in the SI joint. This procedure offers long-term pain relief and can greatly improve mobility.

5. SI joint fusion procedure: In addition to sacroiliac joint injection for pain relief, SI joint fusions can also be considered in severe cases. This surgery involves fusing the SI joint permanently together to reduce pain, and inflammation and restore mobility.

The best course of action for your SI joint dysfunction treatment will depend on the severity and cause of your symptoms. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to identify the most appropriate treatment option. It’s essential to take steps towards a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and engaging in physical activity to avoid complications from SI joint dysfunction.

Treatment of sacroiliac joint dysfunction or SI joint pain performed by osteopathic doctor
Treatment of sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SI joint pain) performed by osteopathic doctor, chiropractor applying manual procedures to lower back region

Prevention of SI Joint Dysfunction

If you’re looking to avoid SI joint dysfunction, prevention is key. Making small lifestyle changes can go a long way in protecting your SI joint health and preventing unnecessary pain and discomfort. Here are some of the best ways you can prevent SI joint dysfunction:

1. Practicing good posture: Good posture is essential for maintaining healthy muscles, joints, and bones, including the SI joint. Whether you’re sitting or standing, be mindful of your posture, keep your spine straight, and avoid slouching.

2. Engaging in regular exercise: Regular exercise keeps your body strong and flexible, which helps prevent injuries like SI joint dysfunction. Exercises like yoga, Pilates, or low-impact cardio are great for keeping your SI joint healthy and flexible.

3. Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight can put a significant strain on your joints, including the SI joint. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can reduce the stress on your joints and minimize the risk of SI joint dysfunction.

4. Using proper lifting techniques: Proper lifting techniques are crucial in avoiding SI joint dysfunction. When lifting heavy objects, use your legs, not your lower back, and avoid twisting or jerking movements.

Remember that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to joint health. Make these lifestyle changes a part of your daily routine to avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort associated with SI joint dysfunction. By practicing good posture, engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and using proper lifting techniques, you can help keep your SI joint healthy and strong.

How To Get Help for SI Joint Dysfunction

SI joint dysfunction is a painful condition that affects many adults. It can be caused by trauma, arthritis, pregnancy, poor posture, and genetics.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in the article above, it may be time to schedule a consultation with a pain management doctor. Remember, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are crucial to managing SI joint dysfunction effectively. Don’t wait any longer to get the pain relief and improved mobility you deserve – contact Pain and Spine Specialists today to schedule an appointment and take control of your joint health.

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