The symptoms of sacroiliac joint pain mimic those of other conditions, including facet joint pain and other conditions of the lumbar spine, such as disc herniation. A physical examination can usually result in a diagnosis, and an injection can be given to alleviate the pain. However, this condition can alter the quality of life, which is why it is important to seek out medical treatment as soon as possible.
The sacroiliac joints are very strong and small, reinforced by ligaments because they don’t move much at all. A physical exam is needed to determine if this is where the pain is coming from. The doctor may move the joint to see if pain is produced. If no other cause can explain the symptoms and pain, such as disc herniation, the joint is most likely the cause. The doctor may have you do the following to diagnose the problem:
- Lie face up on the edge of the exam table with one leg hanging off the table or resting on a stool so that the sacroiliac joint is on the edge of the table.
- The opposite knee can also be drawn to the chest in order to isolate the joint.
- Different positions may be tried to see if pain is produced. However, a great deal of care is taken because the pelvis and lumbar spine can be stressed in certain positions.
- A sacroiliac joint block is an injection that can be used to diagnose the condition. The injection is guided by x-ray to ensure proper injection.
Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
The sacroiliac joint can become inflamed. This can happen due to a sports injury or due to a fall. You could even injure the area from jogging because of the constant impact on that area of the body. Having one leg longer than the other can cause sacroiliac joint pain, or the ligaments may be damaged.
People with arthritis that affects the spine may experience sacroiliac joint pain. Pain can also develop as the cartilage over the joint wears away with age. Your doctor will be able to identify if age is a factor since there are other conditions with similar symptoms that can affect the area.
Pregnancy is even a cause because of the hormones that loosen the joints so they move more. This can lead to a change in how joints move, including the sacroiliac joint. It can cause difficulty walking and a great deal of pain, resulting in the need for assistance to get out of bed or out of a sitting position.
Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Pain
There are some things that you can do at home to treat sacroiliac joint pain. Those things include ice, heat, and rest; anti-inflammatory medications; support braces, exercise, and physical therapy; chiropractic manipulations; and sacroiliac joint injections. However, more severe cases can require surgery. If surgery is required, the sacroiliac joints may be fused with the goal of stopping abnormal motion. Your surgeon will discuss the procedure with you and the expected result, which has a goal of giving you a better quality of life.