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Sacroiliac Joint Pain
(Joint Pain, Sacroiliac)
The sacroiliac joint is in the low back where the spine meets the pelvis. Sacroiliac joint pain is discomfort in this area. This pain is a symptom that may come from a number of conditions or diseases.
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Pain may start in the joint, or in surrounding ligaments or nerves. Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect 1 bone to another. The sacroiliac joint has many nerve endings. The nerves send pain signals to the brain. Pain in this region may be caused by many factors, including:
- Twisting, bending, or moving in a way that triggers sacroiliac joint pain
- Infection of the joint
- Osteoarthritis of the joint, which is more common in older adults
- Trauma , such as an auto accident
- Stress fractures , which is common in athletes
- Inflammation of the joint, which can occur with ankylosing spondylitis
Factors that may increase your chance for sacroiliac joint pain include:
- Weak muscles
- Bending or twisting the back
- Improper lifting
- Inflammatory conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis
- Falling or taking awkward steps off a curb or step
Sacroiliac joint pain may cause:
- Mild-to-severe low back pain
- Pain in the buttocks
- Pain that seems deep in the pelvis
- Pain in the hip or groin or back of the thigh
- Pain that radiates down the leg on the affected side
- Stiffness of the lower spine
- Certain activities may increase the pain, such as walking, twisting, or bending
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Joint injections or nerve blocks may be done to determine if the pain starts in the joint.
Treatment depends on the cause of the pain. Any underlying condition would receive treatment specific for that disease. Regardless of the cause, short-term rest is often advised.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include one or more of the following:
Your doctor may recommend:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Prescription pain relievers
- Muscle relaxants
- Steroid injections into the sacroiliac joint
Physical therapy may include:
- Exercises to stretch the muscles of the lower back
- Exercises to strengthen the muscles which support the area
- Exercises to affect the motion of the sacroiliac joint
- Applying ice to the painful area
- Applying deep heat to the sore area
To reduce your chance of developing sacroiliac joint pain, take these steps:
- Exercise regularly to keep muscles strong
- Maintain good posture
- Use proper techniques for bending, lifting, or playing sports
Ortho Info—Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
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- Reviewer: Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
- Review Date: 06/2016
- Update Date: 05/13/2014