An Overview of SI Joint Dysfunction

What is SI Joint Dysfunction?

SI joint dysfunction describes the chronic symptoms associated with the sacroiliac joints. These joints are located at the connection of the spine and the pelvis. Unlike other levels of the spine, the sacrum is composed of a number of vertebrae that are naturally fused together, thereby limiting mobility.

The iliac bone is the largest bone in the pelvis. Even though it has limited mobility, certain degenerative spine conditions can occur in this area, causing the nearby nerves to become compressed and symptoms to develop. 

What Causes SI Joint Dysfunction?

A number of spinal conditions can cause SI joint dysfunction. Like many joints in the spine, the SI joints are covered with a layer of cartilage to protect the joints and promote ease of movement of the vertebrae with each hinge or pivot.

The layer of cartilage also helps absorb the shock and pressure on the spine caused by normal actions or movements. When this layer of cartilage begins to wear down, a form of osteoarthritis (arthritis of the spine) may develop in the joint, causing the joint to inflame. This is the most common cause of this condition in older adults.

Other causes of this condition include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Gout
  • Pregnancy
  • Arthritis
  • Psoriasis

SI Joint Dysfunction Symptoms

Patients with SI joint dysfunction come with a handful of symptoms. Since this condition is very debilitating, it can make some of your favorite activities become very difficult. Being a knowledgable patient is the best way to see the most significant results. 

Symptoms include:

  • Localized pain
  • Radiating pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Stiffness
  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, or thighs

Conservative Treatment Options

The first step in finding relief from SI joint dysfunction is to receive a proper diagnosis. Because the SI joints are closely related to the lower back and pelvis, patients will sometimes be misdiagnosed. The best way to know if you are suffering from SI joint dysfunction is to undergo diagnostic testing from your doctor that includes an MRI or CT scan.

After a diagnosis, most doctors recommend exploring conservative options prior to considering the available surgical procedures. Conservative treatments include pain medication, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, pain medication, hot and cold compresses, SI joint injections and lifestyle changes.

Surgery with BEST

If conservative efforts are ineffective,  surgery may become an option. At BEST Health System, our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive surgery. For more information regarding treatment with BEST, contact us today.