It’s not always easy to tell if the sacroiliac (SI) joint, which connects the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine to the pelvis on each side of the spine, is what’s causing lower back or leg pain since symptoms are similar to what’s experienced with sciatica or lumbar (lower back) disc herniation. If the SI joint is contributing to your discomfort or a positive diagnosis of SI joint dysfunction has been made with an anesthetic injection block, there are a few non-surgical treatments that may provide relief.
Scientists are unsure about the cause of SI joint pain, but it’s believed to be related to movement. In some cases, it may be caused by too much movement (hypermobility, or instability) or too little movement (hypomobility, or fixation). Everyone experiences different pain triggers. For instance, some people may feel discomfort when going up stairs while others may have pain while walking or when sitting. Activity modification may involve:
If too much movement is believed to be the cause of the pain you feel in your lower back, hips, or groin area (the symptoms often associated with hypermobility), an SI joint belt may provide enough stability to minimize your discomfort. Worn around the pelvis, these snug-fitting belts are designed to limit movement around the SI joint.
The belt can be worn 24 hours a day, but some people benefit from only wearing it during certain activities that seem to trigger pain, or they prefer to take it off at night because it’s uncomfortable. Your doctor can help you determine a schedule that works best for you.
Surgery is rarely necessary for SI joint pain. If these two treatments aren’t providing sufficient relief, you may benefit from the use of ice packs to reduce inflammation or the application of heat with a heat wrap to promote tissue healing. Anti-inflammatory medications, bracing, physical therapy exercises, and SI joint injections may also provide relief. Some patients also report improvements with chiropractic manipulations. However, if these methods are unsuccessful, there are a variety of back fusion alternatives to consider.
At The Spine Institute Center, we specialize in a wide array of fusion and non-fusion procedures, from kyphoplasty to extreme lateral interbody fusion. If you are experiencing chronic pain in your back or neck, allow Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert spine surgeons to help you find relief. To schedule an in-person evaluation, call 310-828-7757 today.