What Is Sacroiliitis And How Does It Contribute To SI Joint Dysfunction?
Sacroiliitis is a condition characterized by inflammation in one or both of the SI joints.
The sacroiliac joints are located at the base of the spine where it connects to the pelvis. These joints can become inflamed, which then leads to a condition called Sacroiliitis. In fact, any time you see the letters “itis” at the tail end of a word, it is a medical term meaning inflammation. A large number of joints, organs and other structures in the body can become inflamed and the SI joints are no exception.
When Sacroiliitis is to blame for SI Joint Dysfunction, the condition usually causes pain in the buttocks, groin, or lower back that can also extend down one or both legs. This type of pain is often worsened by long periods of standing, sitting or climbing stairs. Some patients have reported that prolonged standing, bearing more weight on one leg than the other, running and taking large strides can also worsen the pain.
One question patients frequently ask is: what actually causes the Sacroiliitis in the first place? There are a number of potential culprits, but they most often fall into one of these categories:
- Pregnancy – In order to accommodate the body’s natural childbirth process in women, the sacroiliac joints must loosen and stretch. Coupled with the added weight and irregular gait that many women experience during pregnancy, the additional stress on these joints can result in inflammation of the SI joints.
- Arthritis –Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by wear-and-tear of the joints in the body. The SI joints are not immune to this wearing down over time and they can become inflamed.
- Traumatic Injury –As with any type of bodily trauma, a direct impact to the SI joints – from a motor vehicle accident or particularly severe fall, for example – can damage these joints and cause Sacroiliitis.
- Infection –The SI joint can become infected, though this is a rare occurrence. When it does, severe inflammation can be the result of that infection.
- Ankylosing Spondylitis – This type of inflammatory arthritis can cause Sacroiliitis in some patients. It is a very serious condition and warrants careful treatment and monitoring by a trained spine specialist.
Historically, inflammation of the sacroiliac joint has been difficult to diagnose because it can be mistaken for other, more common causes of pain in the low back – like sciatica. But for spine specialists with significant training and experience in recognizing the differences in these conditions, special tests can help pinpoint Sacroiliitis as the cause. From physical examinations to imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI and even to diagnostic injections – there are multiple ways for physicians to get to the bottom of SI joint pain.
For most patients suffering from SI joint inflammation, treatments may involve rest, physical therapy and certain medications, or a combination of all of these options. But when these treatments do not provide sufficient relief, SI joint fusion can be an effective form of treatment.