Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is felt in the low back and may spread to the groin and legs. There is one joint on the right side of the spine and one on the left. They are held together with strong bands of fiber called ligaments. The joints help reduce impact on the spine during things like walking.
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Damage to bones or ligaments of the joint can cause swelling and pain. This can irritate nearby nerves. This leads to more pain.
Inflammation of the joints may be caused by:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
SI joint pain will differ based on the exact cause. The low back pain may be dull or sharp. It may also be mild to severe. Other problems may be:
Pain may increase with certain activities, such as walking, twisting, rising to stand, or bending.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the back. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Pictures of the back may be taken if there are severe symptoms. This can be done with:
The doctor may also use a nerve block to make sure the pain is coming from the SI joint. Medicine that blocks pain is injected near the SI joint. If pain stops, then the joint is confirmed as the cause.
Underlying causes will be treated. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and give the joints time to heal. Choices are:
Decreasing stress on the back will lower the chance of SI joint pain. This may be done through:
Ortho Info—Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Chronic low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-low-back-pain. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Inflammatory arthritis of the hip. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00396. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Orthogate website. Available at: http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/lumbar-spine/sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction.html. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Spinal injections. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00560. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated: 5/14/2021