Understanding SI Joint Pain

The pain caused by a problem with the SI joint can initially present itself as a general feeling of pain in the lower back. But to a trained spine specialist evaluating a patient for low back pain, there are some telltale signs that the pain might actually be caused by a problem with the SI joint.

SI Joint Pain Symptoms

Pain from SI (sacroiliac) joint disorders can be felt anywhere in the low back, buttocks, hips, or in the legs. The pain can also travel down a leg or into the genital region, and this symptom can make it appear like the common back ailment, sciatica when in reality the problem isn’t with a nerve but with the SI joint itself.

In order to understand the origins of SI joint pain symptoms, it is important to discuss the anatomy and function of the SI joint. The SI (sacroiliac) joint is located at the base of the spine in the pelvis, where the iliac bone (pelvis) connects to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine above the tailbone). This area transfers weight and forces between the upper body and legs. It is an essential component for shock absorption to prevent impact forces during walking from reaching the spine.

The sacroiliac bone is stabilized by a network of ligaments and muscles, which also limit the joint’s range of motion. The normal sacroiliac bone allows for a small amount of motion consisting of roughly 2-4 mm of movement in any direction. The sacroiliac ligaments in women are less stiff than in men, because they must allow the mobility necessary for childbirth.

When a problem arises with the SI joint, pain symptoms can begin to appear that mimic many other common low-back conditions – sometimes making the pain difficult to diagnose for health care providers. However, especially to a spine specialist trained in recognizing SI joint pain symptoms, a number of signs can indicate a problem specifically involving the SI joint. These include: pain felt by the patient at the lowest part of the spine, typically below L5, buttock pain, pain when climbing stairs and pain on one or both sides of the buttocks or low back when seated.

People suffering from SI joint pain should seek immediate medical attention if the pain is also accompanied by an unexplained fever, significant weakness in one or both legs, sudden bladder or bowel incontinence or loss of control, severe and ongoing abdominal pain or otherwise unexplained weight loss. These can be signs of more serious conditions that require urgent evaluation and treatment.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these SI joint pain symptoms, it is important to determine what is causing them. Even if there seem to be no other symptoms associated with the SI joint pain, people who are suffering its painful effects should seek a proper diagnosis by a spine health expert.  This step is critical to ensuring that the condition causing the pain doesn’t worsen or place unnecessary stress or damage on other parts of the spine.

No matter how mild or severe, constant or intermittent, pain in the SI joint is not a normal part of life or healthy aging. If you or someone you know needs help in achieving long-term resolution of SI joint pain symptoms, the expert team at BASIC has the vast experience, advanced-training and specialty qualifications to help.

Health Tips For SI Joint

  • Perform SI joint stretches – these help prevent injury & increase mobility
  • Maintain a healthy body weight – extra pounds can worsen SI joint pain
  • Quit smoking – it seriously restricts nutrient rich blood flow to the spinal discs and joints

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