FAQs About the SI Joint

Low back pain can be completely debilitating. Around 80 percent of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and for many, this pain doesn’t go away with time. Many of our patients who come into our spine surgery center come due to low back pain, and many times, these symptoms pop up due to SI joint problems. To learn more about SI joint pain, read our FAQs below.

What causes low back pain?

Many people will experience low back pain at one point or another in their lives. For some, this is a short-term issue, but others experience chronic low back pain for an extended period of time. There are many different potential causes of low back pain due to the intricate nature of all the different structures of the lower back. Some problems could include a slipped disc, sciatica, hip problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, and a misaligned spine. The SI joint can also contribute significantly to low back pain.

Where is the SI joint located?

The sacroiliac (SI) joint is located on the bottom of the spine and connects the sacrum to the right and left iliac bones.

How does the SI joint work?

The SI joint is responsible for carrying the weight of your upper body when you move. It is essential for absorbing shock from forces that occur as you walk to prevent it from impacting the spine. The primary role is to stabilize the pelvis and bear the load of the upper body.

What causes issues with the SI joint?

If your pelvis is not moving symmetrically, your SI joint may be impacted. This can happen if your legs are two different lengths, which may be congenital or due to an injury or illness. You may also be predisposed to SI joint pain if you have one leg that is weaker than the other, such as with hip osteoarthritis. Even something as simple as wearing the wrong footwear can cause issues with your gait, disrupting the SI joint. Other causes of SI joint pain include degenerative sacroiliitis, joint disruptions, trauma, and pregnancy. Your doctor can work with you to determine the precise cause of pain.

Why does the SI joint cause pain?

The SI joint is a synovial joint, which has free nerve endings that can cause pain if the joint is not moving properly or has degenerated. Like any joint in the body, the SI joint can develop arthritis, or its support ligaments can become injured. When this happens, pain manifests in the low back.

How common are SI joint issues?

SI joint pain is quite common, accounting for one-fourth of all low back pain.

Who develops SI joint issues?

Anyone can develop an SI joint issue, but women are at greater risk because they have broader pelvises. Pregnancy also is one of the most common causes of SI joint pain because it often stretches the pelvis.

How do I know I have SI joint issues?

You might have SI joint problems if you have difficulty getting comfortable when you’re sleeping, you are in pain when you lie or bend in certain ways, frequently experience your leg giving out, or feel a tenderness in your buttocks.

How are SI joint problems treated?

There are several options for treating SI joint pain. Often, the first course of treatment centers around physical therapy or chiropractic care. For others, joint injections and medication can help. For worse cases, SI joint fusion is a surgical option. An alternative to surgery that we offer here in Johnstown is the iFuse implant system. Learn more about this innovative treatment in our next blog!

At ClinTech Center for Spine Health, we offer the iFuse implant system to help individuals with SI joint pain who have exhausted their possibilities. If you’re interested in learning how this could help you with your pain, contact our spine surgeon in Johnstown for a consultation.