SI joint dysfunction overview

SI joint dysfunction is used to describe the chronic symptoms associated with the sacroiliac joints. These joints are found 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. To learn about the causes, symptoms and treatments of SI joint dysfunction, read the following article.

SI joint dysfunction causes

Also referred to as SI joint syndrome, sacroiliac joint inflammation or SI joint strain, this condition can be caused by a number of other conditions in the spine. 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 SI joint dysfunction in older adults.

Other causes of this condition include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Gout
  • Pregnancy
  • Arthritis
  • Psoriasis

SI joint dysfunction symptoms

Living with SI joint dysfunction can be debilitating. The most common symptoms associated with this condition include localized and radiating pain, limited mobility and stiffness. These symptoms can manifest as pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks or thighs. Many patients experience worse pain from either sitting or walking with this condition.

SI joint dysfunction treatment

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, often patients will be misdiagnosed at the first onset of SI joint pain. 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.

Once you have been diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction, 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.

If surgery does become an option after several weeks or months of conservative treatment has proven ineffective, Laser Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ To learn more about the advantages of our outpatient surgery, contact our dedicated team today.

Because our minimally invasive procedures avoid the large incisions and muscle disruption used in traditional open back surgery, our patients can experience a lower risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^ To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute for a free MRI review.*