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Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Introduction

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction refers to a condition that causes pain in the SI joints from a variety of causes.  It is common for pain from the SI joint to mimic disc or low back pain; however it is truly located in the pelvis, or hip joint.

Anatomy

The sacroiliac joints are formed by the connection of the sacrum and the right and left iliac bones.  The sacrum is the triangular-shaped bone in the lower portion of the spine, below the lumbar spine.  While most of the vertebrae of the spine are mobile, the sacrum is made up of five vertebrae that are fused together and do not move.  The iliac bones are the two large bones that make up the pelvis.  As a result, the sacroiliac joints connect the spine to the pelvis.

Causes

There are many different causes of sacroiliac joint pain; however, many times this problem can occur with no known cause.  Some of the possible causes of SI pain are degeneration of the SI joint, fracture, infection, a bone disease, pregnancy, or inflammation of the joint from a disease.

Symptoms

Symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction can include pain in the lower back, usually on one side, hip pain, discomfort with bending over or standing after sitting for a long period of time, and improvement in pain when lying down.

Diagnosis

Your physician will need to do a thorough medical exam and patient history to find out what kind of symptoms you are having, as well as what positions or activities make your symptoms better or worse.  Your doctor will check your posture, how you walk, and find out where your pain is located.  Blood work may be ordered if your doctor suspects your pain may be caused by an infection or some type of arthritis.  X-rays are usually ordered of the low back and pelvis.

Treatment

Physical therapy is an important part of the healing process.  Your physical therapist can work with you to give you exercises that will strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, as well as provide you with relief from the pain that this condition causes.  Intermittent use of a pelvic belt may provide symptomatic relief as well.

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