When it comes to low back pain, there is no shortage of people affected. In fact, up to 80 percent of all American adults will suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives due to causes ranging from herniated discs to muscle strain. However, up to 25 percent of cases of pain in the lower back and thighs can be attributed to dysfunction with the sacroiliac (SI) joints.
What are SI Joints?
The sacroiliac joints are located where the sacrum (triangular-shaped bone near the bottom of the spine) and left and right iliac (large pelvic bones) meet. Their function is to distribute weight evenly across the pelvis, absorb shock, and alleviate pressure on the spine. When the SI joints become painful and inflamed, it is known as SI joint dysfunction. This is a condition that can occur due to many potential causes, including the following:
SI Joint Dysfunction from Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is responsible for more cases of joint pain than any other condition. Also known as degenerative arthritis, the inflammation and pain of osteoarthritis most frequently occurs with age, after years of wear and tear on the joint. As the condition progresses, the cartilage that once cushioned and protected the joint degrades even further, and symptoms such as pain and decreased range-of-motion worsen.
SI Joint Pain from Gout
Gout is another form of arthritis that develops in some who have elevated levels of uric acid in their blood. This acid can form crystals within the joints. These crystal deposits in joints can lead to painful, red, swollen, warm joints. This can occur in one or many joints.
Pregnancy and SI Joint Pain
With pregnancy, the growing baby places increased stresses on the woman’s pelvis, and added weight that occurs naturally throughout pregnancy places added stress across the SI joints. This, combined with ligamentous laxity that occurs with pregnancy due to hormones such as relaxin, can lead to instability and pathologic motion across the SI joint. Most of the time this pain resolves after delivery, but some women can experience SI joint pain long after their pregnancy.
SI Joint Dysfunction Due to Injury
Forceful impacts from sources such as falls, car accidents, or contact sports can lead to trauma and resulting pain within the sacroiliac joints.
Ankylosing Spondylitis and SI Joint Dysfunction
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a specific form of arthritis which impacts the joints and vertebrae of the spine, and it is commonly observed in the SI joints. In addition to causing joint inflammation, AS may also lead to the development of bony growths which cause the joints to fuse to the spine. It is most commonly seen in young men and can range from mild and intermittent to severe and ongoing.
Relief from SI Joint Dysfunction
Finding the appropriate treatment protocol to bring relief from SI joint dysfunction requires a skilled orthopedic specialist who can first identify the underlying source of pain. To find an orthopedic physician who specializes in arthritis and joint dysfunction in the Baton Rouge area, click the button below to learn more about the physicians at the Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge.