When one or both of the sacroiliac joints become inflamed it is called Sacroiliitis. The sacroiliac joints are where the lower spine connects with the pelvis. Since Sacroiliitis can cause pain in the lower back, it is often very difficult to diagnose as it can be mistaken as one of many other conditions. The pain that one experiences with Sacroiliitis can be aggravated by standing for long periods of time or by climbing stairs. There can be several components which work together to develop a treatment plan. For those who suspect they may have developed Sacroiliitis, it is important to discuss their condition with a NJ spine specialist.
Symptoms of Sacroiliitis
There are many different symptoms associated with Sacroiliitis. The sufferer may experience any one or any combination of these symptoms:
- Lower back pain, leg pain, hip pain or buttock pain
- Stiffness in the lower back and hips especially when getting out of bed in the mornings or after sitting for a long period of time
- Pain that gets worse after sitting for prolonged amounts of time or when rolling over in bed
- Pain during activities such as running, climbing stairs or taking large strides
What causes Sacroiliitis?
There can be a wide range of possible causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Some factors may simply predispose an individual to developing the condition. One cause can be any form of traumatic injury where there is a sudden impact; and especially one which is traumatic on the back or hip. An automobile accident or a fall can cause damage to the sacroiliac joints. Arthritis can also be a contributing factor since the wear and tear of osteoarthritis can cause inflammation which affects the spinal area. Other types of arthritis which cause inflammation in the pelvic region can also be associated with Sacroiliitis. Pregnancy can also be a factor since the pelvic widens and stretches the sacroiliac joints during the birth of a child. In very rare cases, infections can cause the sacroiliac joint to become infected.
How will a spinal specialist diagnose Sacroiliitis?
The physician may be able to pinpoint the specific area that is giving a patient trouble by simply pressing directly on different areas on the hips or buttocks. He may also be able to discover the main areas which are affected by moving the legs into various positions that put some gentle stress on the sacroiliac joints. He will then likely request a series of imaging tests such as an x-ray of the pelvic region. This can reveal if there has been any damage in the area of the sacroiliac joint. If the spinal specialist determines that there is some reason for concern, he or she may also request an MRI. Since lower back pain can be a symptom of so many conditions, the physician may suggest trying anesthetic injections to help achieve a specific diagnosis. They may inject a medicine which numbs the area into the sacroiliac joint. If the paint subsides it is likely that there is a problem in this area. These numbing injections can make a diagnosis simpler to achieve.
In most cases the treatment options for Sacroiliitis are non-surgical and very conservative. The goal is to simply restore the joint’s normal motion. A NJ spine specialist may prescribe some pain medications to alleviate the pain. Or they may suggest using anti-inflammatory medicines which can reduce the swelling which is the main contributor to the pain. Depending on the severity of the pain, the spinal specialist may recommend ice applied in 15 to 20 minute intervals. This can help reduce the swelling. They will typically suggest a period of rest so that the area can recover. After the inflammation has been reduced, they may suggest a gradual return to some normal activities. In some cases, chiropractic manipulations may be used to provide some relief. They may use one of several different methods which are appropriate for bringing relief and aide in healing. Some of the methods might include blocking techniques, side-posture manipulation, drop technique, or instrument guided methods. The health care provider will determine how severe the case is and what treatment options are the most effective in each situation.