If you’re suffering from constant or significant lower back pain, an issue in the sacroiliac joint may be the cause. The SI joint is a common cause of pain in the lower back and buttocks, but it’s often treatable. Here’s an explanation of how this joint causes lower back pain and what solutions are available to treat the pain that it does cause.
SI Joint Causes Pain When Degraded or Injured
The sacroiliac joint is located behind the back of the pelvis, and it connects the pelvis (iliac bone) to the lowest portion of the spine (sacrum). The point at which it connects to the spine is just above the tailbone.
In this position, the SI joint bears a tremendous amount of weight as it’s the focal point where upper body weight is transferred to the legs. Whenever you stand, walk or jog, this joint is bearing the weight of your upper body. It also transitions that weight anytime you bend or flex at the pelvis.
Because the SI joint continually bears so much weight, it’s not uncommon for the joint to eventually wear out in older adults. Even in otherwise healthy adults, the joint can degenerate and no longer function as it did earlier in life.
The joint can also be injured, just as any joint might be. When the SI joint is injured, it may be due to impact, poor posture, repetitive motions or other causes.
Regardless of the cause of the SI joint’s damage, the issue typically manifests itself in the form of pain in the lower back and buttocks. The pain might be centralized in one location near the joint, but it also can radiate to the surrounding areas.
Tests and Trial-and-Error Are Used to Diagnose SI Joint Issues
If a patient presents lower back and/or buttocks pain, orthopedic surgeons may use a combination of tests and trial-and-error to diagnose the exact issue. Trial-and-error might not seem like the most scientific way to diagnose a medical issue, but the method used is widely regarded as a safe practice and this is the best way to definitively pinpoint an SI joint issue.
Imaging tests are often used first to see whether there might be signs of degradation or injury in the SI joint. The diagnostic tests that an orthopedic surgeon might order include an X-ray, CT scan and/or MRI scan. Your surgeon will know what tests are most useful given your specific situation.
When imaging tests suggest SI joint deterioration or injury, the exact issue can be confirmed by a test treatment of a local anesthetic. The anesthetic is injected into the joint, and soon whether this joint is the cause of pain will be clear. If the anesthetic alleviates the pain, then the pain is caused by a problem with the joint. If the anesthetic is ineffective, the pain isn’t caused by this joint.
Treatment Options for SI Joint Pain
Once an SI joint issue is diagnosed, an orthopedic surgeon might recommend any combination of four treatment options:
- Prescription medication may be taken on an as-needed
- Physical therapy exercises may help improve the joint’s surrounding area
- Injection therapy may alleviate pain for longer than oral medication can
- Minimally invasive surgery may address the underlying joint issue that’s causing the pain
Exactly what’s best in a particular situation depends on the specifics of the patient’s symptoms and joint.
Treatment with the IFuse Implant System
At Prime Surgical Suites, Dr. Geissele is an expert in minimally invasive surgery for the SI joint. Specifically, he’s helped alleviate many patients’ symptoms through minimally invasive surgery that’s known as iFuse implants.
The iFuse Implant System is a minimally invasive procedure that’s specifically developed for the SI joint. The procedure is the current standard of medical care for relieving SI joint pain, and it provides joint stabilization and allows for long-term fusion. The result is an immediate and long-lasting relief of lower back pain.
Don’t Stop Living Your Life Because of Lower Back Pain
If you’re suffering from lower back pain, don’t let the pain prevent you from living your best and most active life. Contact a low back pain specialist at Prime Surgical Suites today for a free consultation.
At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.