What Is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

The sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is a large and weight-bearing joint. All the weight of the body and upper extremities comes down the spine, down the SI joint through the iliac joints, and down the legs, so it’s a very important joint.

As people age, that joint starts to fuse and some people get arthritis in that joint. SI pain usually feels like low back and buttock type pain. Usually the pain doesn’t radiate below the knee, but in rare occasions it can.

Something that is very common is pain on the side of the legs, which is called bursitis. Whenever a person has pain the body moves just a little bit differently than if they didn’t have pain which is usually the cause of bursitis. This pain can be very severe and radiate from the front or back of the hips and legs.

“The most common treatment is a diagnostic block, which we call an SI joint injection.”

We put a needle directly into the joint and watch the medicine spread into that area and check after a short time to see if the pain feels better.

For many people, this will give significant relief. Other treatments are physical therapy and active release techniques.

Sometimes we do this a few times (called a double diagnostic block) and see if a patient feels relief. If they get significant relief then we can cauterize the nerves, which we test before cauterizing to make sure we are in the right area. If we cauterize the nerves the average pain relief is about a year.

SI pain can be difficult to treat sometimes because 2/3 of the nerves come from the back of the joint and 1/3 comes from the front. Pain doctors can only inject nerves in the back section, which is most common for pain.

If a patient’s pain is from the front nerves then there are other options such as a spinal cord stimulator, exercise, or stretching. Surgeons can actually fuse the joint in rare cases that don’t respond to any other joint pain treatment.

Joint pain treatments can greatly improve your comfort level and give you significant relief.

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