The sacroiliac (SI) joints are located between the sacrum and the ilium bones on each side of the pelvis. The joint is a shock absorber that provides a very small amount of flexibility to reduce stress between the pelvis and the spine. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can cause pain in the lower back or the leg. The pain may feel similar to the pain caused by other disorders of the spine and lower back, and is therefore difficult to diagnose.
Cause of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction likely occurs when the movements between the joints on the left and right sides of the pelvis are disrupted and become asymmetrical. This can be caused by:
- Excessive movement
- Too little movement
When SI joint dysfunction is caused by excessive movement, the pain is often felt in the lower back or the hip. Sometimes, the pain may also be felt in the groin area. When the problem is caused by too little movement, the pain is often felt on one side of the body, usually in the lower back or buttocks, and may extend farther down the leg. Usually the pain does not extend past the knee, although in some cases, the pain may extend all the way to the ankle or the foot.
Usually, the following symptoms are associated with SI joint dysfunction:
- A dull pain or stiffness across one side of the lower back that may increase with extended periods of sitting or walking
- The pain may increase or sharpen when performing actions such as standing up from sitting or lifting the knees while climbing stairs
- Severe dysfunction can cause pain in the hip, groin, or down the leg.
It is often difficult to diagnose SI dysfunction because the symptoms are so similar to those of other conditions. To gain a proper diagnosis of the cause of lower back pain, a physician will often perform a physical examination to eliminate the possibility of other conditions.
Treatments for the disorder may include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicine
- Rest and limited activity
- Sacroiliac belt, a special type of brace that wraps around the hips tightly
- Physical therapy
If other treatments are unsuccessful, a doctor may perform a series of injections to the lower back, or surgery may be recommended for severe cases.
Since sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be caused by limited movement, it is important to vary your activity at the office. Avoid prolonged immobility my taking regular, brief breaks from sitting. Additionally, choosing ergonomic office furniture can help reduce your risk of developing lower back pain.
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