SI Joint Pain Sacroiliitis

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Is Sacroiliitis to Blame for Your SI Joint Pain?

Sacroiliitis is the overarching term used to describe inflammation of the SI (sacroiliac) joints. There are multiple causes for inflammation of the SI joints. Unaddressed, long term inflammation of the SI joints will lead to SI joint dysfunction which produces the symptoms of SI joint pain.

Understanding Sacroiliitis as a Cause of SI Joint Pain

In order to understand how sacroiliitis can impact the SI joints, it is useful to take a look at where the joints are and how they are designed to perform. The sacroiliac joints form at the points where the sacrum region of the spine and the two ilium (hip) bones meet, one on the left and one on the right side of the spine. The two ilium bones are the major structures of the pelvis. The SI joints play a major role in supporting the upper body and helping to transmit motion through the hips and legs. There are several components to the SI joints, each of which is subject to pressures that can cause friction, inflammation, and long term wear and tear.

The SI joints are basically opposing bony surfaces covered by cartilage and bound together by extremely strong ligaments. By design, SI joints have a narrow range of movement. But they need to be fluid enough to allow the hips and legs to move smoothly while at the same time supporting the spine and upper body. Any stressors to this balance of function can damage the joints and introduce SI joint dysfunction.

Sacroiliitis can be caused by conditions that develop over time, or by acute traumatic events. Severe impact, such as an automobile collision or a fall from height, can deliver immediate damage to the SI joints. Smaller, less severe impacts can add up to SI joint deterioration and inflammation over time. Runners, bikers, and others involved with repetitive motion would be susceptible to SI joint damage and pain. Arthritis is the broadest category to describe inflammation of joints. Osteoarthritis, also known as wear and tear arthritis, is very common in the SI joints. It brings inflammation to the accompanying ligaments and tissue. Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of inflammatory arthritis, can be a primary factor in SI joint pain. Other inflammatory conditions include psoriatic and reactive arthritis. During pregnancy, the ligaments that secure the SI joints loosen and stretch to accommodate uterine growth and ultimately birth. Combined with added weight and altered walking pattern, SI joints are highly susceptible to damage during this time.

Sacroiliitis can result whether the SI joints are experiencing hypo-mobility or hyper-mobility. Hypo-mobility simply means low movement. The ligaments that hold the SI joints together tighten and lose elasticity. Cartilage of the SI joints can erode, bone spurs can develop, and the joints can freeze or lock up. The result is limited motion and chronic pain. Hyper-mobility means high movement. The ligaments stretch out and become more elastic. This can cause undue friction within the joint, misalignment of the bones, uneven wear, and subsequent pain. There are also many nerves in proximity to the SI joints that can become irritated and inflamed. The range of pain can vary from dull to acute.

SI joint pain can express itself on either the left or right side of the lower back. SI joint dysfunction can produce pain in the buttocks, groin, and thighs as well.

Sacroiliitis is just one of the many ways the SI joints can suffer undue stress. Such stress inflames the joint, damages cartilage, increases wear and tear, and adds to the overall deterioration of mobility. If you are experiencing symptoms of pain related to sacroiliitis, get in touch with a medical expert in spine health. Early diagnosis and treatment of SI joint dysfunction can slow progression of the disease, relieve low back pain, and help to restore healthy joint function.


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Tips for Preventing and Managing SI Joint Pain at Home

  • Regular stretching and exercise can help prevent and ease low back pain.
  • When lifting heavy objects, use your legs for leverage, not your back.
  • Walk cautiously and wear shoes with good traction when walking on slippery surfaces.
  • When carrying something, be sure to distribute its weight evenly, not favoring one side.
  • Consult a spine specialist for severe low back pain that hasn’t resolved with conservative methods in a few weeks.


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