San Francisco Spine Surgeons

What’s That Pain?

Sacroiliac Joint San Francisco Bay Area CAChronic low back pain is challenging for patients because discomfort and limited range of motion can put an enormous dent in the quality of life. Back pain is one of the primary reasons reported for missing work. This problem is challenging for physicians because, to improve comfort and quality of movement, it is necessary to identify the source of pain. Clinical data suggests that as much as 25% of low back pain originates in the sacroiliac joint.

The Anatomy of the SI Joint

The sacroiliac joint is situated between the sacrum and the iliac bone, or the pelvis. The role this joint plays in movement is that it transfers energy between the torso and the legs. The SI joint supports weight from the upper body and is supported by a matrix of muscles and ligaments. In the normal situation, there is limited motion within this joint (4mm or less in any direction).

Problems occur when the sacroiliac joint wears down or becomes injured. Like any joint, this could happen as a natural side-effect of living and aging. Should degeneration occur, pain is likely to develop in the legs, groin, lower back, or buttocks. Discomfort and motion limitations may be more noticeable when walking, running, or lifting.

Additional symptoms of SI joint degeneration include:

  • Instability when moving, as if the leg may buckle.
  • Weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg.
  • Hip or pelvic pain.
  • Discomfort upon standing from a seated position.
  • The difficulty was sitting or lying in one position for very long.

Moving Toward Resolution

Our priority in patient care is to resolve uncomfortable symptoms through the most appropriate protocols. Diagnosis may be confirmed by a comprehensive physical exam and specific tests such as diagnostic imaging and injections. Patient involvement is also critical to facilitate the accurate diagnosis for lower back or other symptoms. It is important that patients communicate as clearly as possible exactly where their pain occurs, and to what extent. Previous injuries to the pelvis, or conditions that may have caused imbalanced gate should also be reported.

Sacroiliac joint pain may first be addressed with physical therapy, injection therapy, and medication. If the desired result is not achieved through non-surgical protocols, the fusion of the joint may be discussed as a final option.

Back pain of any kind needs to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. To learn how we can help you feel good again, call (415) 750-5570.

Posted in: Spine Conditions


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