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Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction

What Is Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction?

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction occurs with structural changes to the joint or changes to the relative positions of the sacrum and pelvis. Symptoms may start when the SI joint has too much movement (hypermobility) or too little (hypomobility).

If these ligaments are torn, the pelvis can become unstable. When these ligaments become damaged either due to normal wear and tear or by injury, they may have excessive motion. This excessive motion may inflame and disrupt the joint and surrounding nerves.

Your physician may also refer to SI joint dysfunction by other terms like sacroiliitis, SI joint inflammation, SI joint syndrome, and SI joint strain.

SI Joint Dysfunction Symptoms

The most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction is pain in the lower back, buttock and legs. This can present as sciatica like symptoms (leg pain, burning, numbness, and tingling) that mimic discogenic or radicular low back pain.

Causes of SI Joint Dysfunction

Causes of SI joint dysfunction can be split into five categories:

  • Traumatic (lifting, fall, accident)
  • Biomechanical (leg length discrepancy, prior lumbar fusion)
  • Hormonal (pregnancy / childbirth)
  • Inflammatory joint disease (sacroiliitis)
  • Degeneration (age related wear and tear)

Diagnosing SI Joint Dysfunction

In order to diagnose SI joint dysfunction, your physician will typically start with a history and a physical examination. During the physical examination, your physician may try to determine if the sacroiliac joint is the cause of pain through movement of the joint. If the movement recreates the pain, the SI joint may be the cause of the pain.

Your physician may also use X-rays, CT-scan or MRI to help in diagnosing the sacroiliac joint. It is also important to remember that more than one condition (like a disc problem) can co-exist with SI joint dysfunction.

Finally, your physician may request SI joint injections as a diagnostic test. SI joint injections involve injecting a numbing medication into the SI joint. If the injection alleviates your symptoms, then that means your SI joints are most likely the source of your pain.

Treatment Option for SI Joint Dysfunction

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  • Bell Neuroscience Institute of Silicon Valley Neurosurgery, Neurological Surgery, Radiation Oncology
    2500 Mowry Ave
    Fremont, CA 94538
    (510) 818-1160
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