Sacroiliac Joint Pain Pain Management in Knoxville, TNBack pain is the top cause of disability worldwide and the most common reason for missed work. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans are currently suffering from low back pain. One of the lesser-known causes of this type of pain is sacroiliac joint dysfunction. This condition makes it painful to sit or stand for long periods of time, walk up the stairs or bend at the waist. In this article, we will provide information on causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for sacroiliac joint pain at one of the leading Omega Pain Management clinics in Knoxville.
What is a sacroiliac joint?The sacroiliac (SI) joint is a joint in your pelvis connecting a triangle bone at the bottom of your spine (sacrum) to the top of the hip bone (ilium). There are 2 SI joints on each side of the pelvis. It is a very strong joint supporting most of the upper body weight. The SI joint acts as a shock absorber and helps stabilize and effectively distribute weight between the spine and legs. To achieve stability, the joint is reinforced by several strong ligaments and allows very little movement.
What causes sacroiliac joint pain?The main causes of sacroiliac joint pain are:
- Injury, for example, a car accident or a fall
- Arthritis – degeneration of the joint tissues
- Different leg length or scoliosis – both conditions can place uneven pressure on the joint
- Pregnancy – hormonal changes cause ligaments to stretch to accommodate childbirth, leading to instability in the joint
- Activities, such as lifting heavy objects or playing contact sports, that put excessive pressure on the joint
- Previous lower back fusion surgery
How common is sacroiliac joint pain?Low back pain is one of the most common conditions, affecting over 85% of the population. A 2005 review published in Anesthesia & Analgesia estimates that sacroiliac joint pain accounts for 15% to 25% of localized low back pain cases. Sacroiliac joint pain affects different age groups depending on the root cause. In younger adults, it usually follows a sports injury or is pregnancy-related, whereas in the older population it is typically a result of degeneration as a part of aging.
What are the symptoms of SI joint pain?The main symptom of the condition is a dull pain in the lower back area, that sometimes spread to the hips, things, or buttocks. Usually, the pain is felt on one side. In some cases, sacroiliac joint pain can mimic sciatica symptoms, such as sharp pain, numbness, and tingling in the back and the leg, which makes correct diagnosis more challenging. Activities such as going up the stairs, standing up from the seating position, prolonged standing, running, or lying on the affected side can all aggravate sacroiliac joint pain. The pain might be accompanied by stiffness in the lower back area, making it difficult to bend at the waist. Instability or feeling like the pelvis might give in during walking or running is another possible symptom of the condition.
How is SI joint pain diagnosed?Accurate diagnosis of sacroiliac joint pain can be difficult because the symptoms are very similar to other types of back pain. As there is no one specific test that can confirm the diagnosis, a combination of techniques is used. After taking a patient’s medical history, a doctor performs a physical exam that includes several tests that, if the pain is reproduced, can point to a sacroiliac joint dysfunction, such as:
- Sacral thrust test – applying pressure to the back of the hips when a patient is lying face down
- Distraction test – applying pressure to the front of the hips when a patient is lying face up
- FABER test – pushing down on a bent knee when a patient is lying face up with the foot over the other knee.
Treatment for sacroiliac joint painThe initial line of treatment for sacroiliac joint pain includes ice packs or heat application, over-the-counter pain relief medications, and a period of rest, which should be brief to avoid further stiffness in the joint. If the pain is caused by the joint being too loose, strengthening exercises and a pelvic brace can help support and stabilize the area. If it is caused by too little motion in the joint, manual manipulation by a health professional and stretching exercises can help reduce muscle tension. If further treatment is required, sacroiliac joint steroid injections are recommended. They deliver a combination of the anti-inflammatory steroid and a local anesthetic directly to the joint area and provide pain relief. Radiofrequency therapy techniques can affect the pain transmission mechanism and help reduce the symptoms of sacroiliitis. Sacroiliac joint surgery is rare and is only considered when all the other treatment options have been exhausted. Surgery involves eliminating motion in the joint by fusing it.
ConclusionSacroiliac joint pain is one of the low back pain causes that can sometimes be challenging to identify. Injury and pregnancy are the common causes of this condition in the younger population, whereas degenerative changes, such as arthritis, are a more likely cause for the older patients. Diagnosis for sacroiliac joint pain is not always straightforward but is very important as it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition. The first step is contacting your doctor, who will help with the diagnostic process and treatment advice.
Relief For Sacroiliac Joint Pain in Knoxville, TNA competent physician can help you cope with the everyday pain associated with sacroiliitis, often with a combination of pain reducing medications and physical therapy. Omega Pain Management can assist you with your journey toward recovery. For Sacroiliac Joint pain care in Knoxville, contact Igor Smelyansky, MC. Call (865) 337-5137.
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Vleeming A, Schuenke MD, Masi AT, Carreiro JE, Danneels L, Willard FH. The sacroiliac joint: an overview of its anatomy, function and potential clinical implications. J Anat. 2012 Dec;221(6):537-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2012.01564.x. Epub 2012 Sep 19. PMID: 22994881; PMCID: PMC3512279.