There are two sacroiliac joints in the body. They are located on each side of the sacrum – the triangle-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine – where it connects to the pelvis. The SI Joints play very important role in providing stability for the body and absorbing the forces created by running, walking, or jumping.
Sacroiliac joint problems go by a few different names, such as SI joint dysfunction, sacroiliac joint disease, SI joint syndrome, SI joint strain and SI joint inflammation.
What are the symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction?
Patients may experience a variety symptoms with SI Joint Dysfunction, including lower back pain; numbness, tingling, weakness and pain in the legs; pelvis and buttock pain; and hip and groin pain.
Patients with SI Joint dysfunction may experience pain participating in a variety of activities, such as walking, sitting, sleeping and getting out of a car.
What are the causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction?
The primary cause of SI Joint dysfunction is degenerative arthritis, or osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the normal wear and tear of the joints in the body. It is one the most common chronic conditions that affect the joints in the body.
In the SI Joint, it’s the layer of cartilage between the ilium (hip bone) and sacrum, which helps with movement and acts like a shock absorber, that begins to break down. When this cartilage is damaged and worn away, the bones can rub together causing pain in the joint, lower back, buttocks, hips and legs.
There are other disorders that can also cause inflammation in the SI Joint and lead to stiffness and severe pain, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
It is estimated that 15 to 25 percent of patients with axial low back pain can attribute their pain to the SI Joint.
How is sacroiliac joint dysfunction diagnosed?
There are a variety of tests a patient may undergo to determine the cause of their SI joint pain. Proper diagnosis is important because symptoms may mimic symptoms of problems in other parts of the body. Your physician can diagnose the joint by conducting the following exams and tests:
- Medical History and Physical Examination to determine what underlying disorders may be causing the pain.
- Provocative tests, such as the FABER test, which requires the patient to lie on their back facing up as the physician brings the foot on the affected side across the body to rest on the opposite knee. The physician will then place their hand on the opposite hip bone while applying downward pressure on the knee away from the body’s midline.
- X-Ray and CT scans to identify hardening tissue and wear on the bone around the joint.
- MRI to identify fractures and inflammation not visible on an X-ray.
- Injections to determine if the SI joint is the cause of the pain.
How is sacroiliac joint dysfunction treated?
There are a variety of options available to treat SI joint dysfunction ranging from medications to physical therapy to chiropractic care to injections.
When conservative methods fail to relieve the pain, your physician may recommend an SI Joint Fusion to reduce the amount of movement and pain in the sacroiliac joint.
How is and SI joint fusion performed?
At the BioSpine Institute, we perform SI Joint fusions using the Rialto SI Fusion System to stabilize the sacroiliac joint and provide an environment for fusion (joining bones together into one solid structure) to occur.
Our surgeons make a small incision less than an inch just above the hip. Through a series of steps, they fuse the sacrum and the large bones of the pelvis together with one, two or three cylindrical threaded devices and pack it with a material to promote bone growth. Very little tissue is disrupted during this minimally invasive surgery. These devices are manufactured at various lengths to accommodate every patient’s anatomy.
What to expect after SI joint fusion surgery?
The road to recovery after surgery is different for every patient. The most important thing is to follow your doctor’s instructions to promote healing and to recover as quickly as possible.