Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SI joint dysfunction) is a condition that affects the sacroiliac joint, which is located in the pelvis and connects the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) to the ilium (the large, wing-shaped bone in the hip). The sacroiliac joint is responsible for transferring weight and forces between the upper body and the legs during movement.
“SI joint dysfunction occurs when there is abnormal movement or inflammation in the joint, leading to pain and discomfort,”explains Orthopedic Surgeon Rolando Garcia, M.D.
The exact cause of SI joint dysfunction is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to a variety of factors, including trauma, pregnancy, arthritis, or muscle imbalances.
Symptoms of SI joint dysfunction can include pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, and thighs, which may be worsened by standing, walking, or sitting for long periods. The pain may be sharp or dull and can range from mild to severe. In some cases, the pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling in the legs or feet.
Treatment for SI joint dysfunction typically involves a combination of non-surgical approaches, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and medications (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants) to manage pain and inflammation. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation and provide relief. If non-surgical treatments are ineffective, surgery may be considered, but it is typically only recommended as a last resort.
In what cases surgery may be considered for this condition?
In general, surgery may be considered if there is significant damage to the joint or if conservative treatment measures have been unsuccessful. Examples of when surgery may be considered for SI joint dysfunction include:
- Fusion Surgery: Fusion surgery is a procedure where the sacroiliac joint is permanently fused using bone grafts or implants. This is done to eliminate movement in the joint, which can relieve pain caused by abnormal motion or inflammation. This surgery is typically reserved for cases of severe and chronic pain that has not responded to other treatments.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure where a small needle is inserted into the affected joint, and heat is applied to the nerves that supply the joint, which can reduce pain signals. This procedure is generally considered for those who have found some relief from SI joint injections but have not achieved lasting relief.
- Open Surgery: In rare cases, open surgery may be required to address severe SI joint dysfunction. This may involve removing part of the joint, repairing ligaments or tendons, or removing bone spurs that are causing pain.
It is important to note that surgery is not always necessary or effective in treating SI joint dysfunction. A medical professional will assess your individual situation and consider all non-surgical treatment options before recommending surgery.