Do you experience lower back discomfort? Have you ever stepped or moved awkwardly and experienced numbing pain in your legs? This scenario and many others set the stage for sacroiliac – SI joint pain, which can cause debilitating back and leg problems. Never ignore an ache or injury to your back or spine because the repercussions can be severe. While many individuals suffer from sacroiliac pain due to an injury, many more patients may not be able to pinpoint what caused their discomfort. Visit a specialist or provider to learn more and determine if you are at risk.
The sacroiliac, or SI joint, is surrounded with ligaments that can be injured or strained. The SI joint acts as a buffer for the pressure of the upper body on your hips and legs. The joint’s range of motion is minimal yet integral to core strength and freedom of movement. Since the SI joint is near your pelvis, irritation can result in often-debilitating lower back pain. See your medical provider to determine if your pain is a symptom of an underlying condition or a simple strain of the SI joint. Another sign that the sacroiliac has been irritated is leg pain, which may resemble the discomfort of a herniated disc or sciatica.
Sacroiliac pain typically comes from moving too much or too little. This can simply be from prolonged sitting which often is just labeled as pain with sitting. SI joint pain can be a symptom of arthritis or gout or the result of a trauma, such as a fall or an injury. Being pregnant puts additional stress on the SI joint, so discomfort and pain are not uncommon. Extended post-partum pelvic pain should be evaluated by a specialist though. Sacroiliac pain is more prevalent among females, particularly young and middle-aged women. Any change in the SI joint’s normal function and motion may trigger sacroiliac pain. Have you ever stepped in a hole or stumbled and experienced pangs in your lower back? This is an example of how swiftly SI joint pain can erupt, often causing weeks of discomfort and difficulty.
There are many noninvasive treatment options for individuals living with sacroiliac pain. The approaches are typically nonsurgical, with the goal of returning the SI joint to the normal range of motion. Even mild sacroiliac pain should not be ignored because you run the risk of serious nerve compression issues later, which may require surgery to resolve.
Some common treatment recommendations for SI joint pain include:
For chronic or more severe cases, providers may recommend pelvic floor physical therapy; your doctor may offer pain medication to provide you with the relief needed to pursue and maintain physical therapy to get you back to normal activity faster. In some instances, providers may suggest trigger point injections to relieve SI pain, usually with anesthetic followed by an anti-inflammatory. This has proven to provide immediate relief for many patients.
Don’t risk nerve damage by ignoring SI joint pain; see your provider for a referral to a pelvic health specialist if you feel you are at risk. With physical therapy, many patients may not see a recurrence in their symptoms, barring additional trauma to the joint. Finding the cause and source of your lower back pain may identify underlying conditions, such as arthritis, for early treatment and favorable prognoses.