Could Osteoarthritis Be The Cause Of Your SI Joint Pain?
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in humans.
Although osteoarthritis is a condition that affects a large number of people, it is very serious and can play a contributing role to a number of other disease processes and disorders in the body– including SI Joint Dysfunction. A joint disease that mostly attacks cartilage, osteoarthritis is often a condition suffered by adults as they get older. The body’s cartilage is the cushion-like, smooth tissue that covers every joint. It is the substance that allows joints to move with ease and fluidity. When cartilage breaks down (medically referred to as degeneration), either from age and normal wear and tear or from a traumatic injury, it forces the bones of the joints to rub together – ultimately causing pain.
The SI joints, like any other joint in the body, are covered and protected by cartilage. So they too can fall victim to the effects of osteoarthritis. When this happens, the many nerves surrounding the SI joint may begin to send pain signals to the brain. Osteoarthritis is usually a condition that occurs gradually, over time. While getting older is the most significant contributing factor associated with this disorder, there are others that can put a person at greater risk for developing it. These include:
- Overweight or obesity
- Extreme stress on the joints from sports or certain job duties
- Traumatic Injury to the affected joint
- Malformed joints as the result of a birth defect or other anatomical condition
- Genetically defective joint cartilage
Diagnosing osteoarthritis in the SI Joint takes a skilled expert and specific testing designed to pinpoint the source of the pain. Because it is a condition that is frequently experienced in the knees, hips and hands, it may not occur to a physician to consider it as a culprit of SI Joint Dysfunction. Knowing what to look for is crucial.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in the SI Joint:
- Mild-to-severe low back pain on one or both sides, below L5
- Pain on one or both sides of the buttocks that may radiate into the groin or back of the thigh
- Pain on one side that may radiate down one leg in particular
- Increased pain with certain activities – prolonged sitting or standing, bending or twisting or climbing stairs.
While there is no single test that definitely diagnoses osteoarthritis of the sacroiliac joint, most spine specialists use several methods to accurately pinpoint the condition, while ruling out other problems at the same time. These diagnostic exams can include:
- Discussion of medical history and listening to a patient’s detailed explanation of symptoms.
- A physical examination with provocative tests designed to re-create the SI joint symptoms.
- X-ray or MRI
Once a diagnosis of osteoarthritis resulting in SI joint pain is made, physicians typically combine a variety of treatments to fit the patient’s needs, lifestyle activities, and health concerns. The goal of treatment is to control pain, restore healthy living and to prevent the condition from getting worse. This can be accomplished by physical therapy and certain types of exercise, an SI joint belt, medication therapy and in some cases, surgery.
Finding a physician who understands the treatment of SI joint dysfunction is the most important action a patient can take in determining whether osteoarthritis is at fault and finding an effective treatment.