What are Sacroiliitis?

Sacroiliac joints are located near the junction of the lower spine and pelvis. When these sacroiliac joints are inflamed, the condition is referred to as sacroiliitis. Sacroiliitis causes pain in your lower back and buttocks and can pass down to one or both legs. Activities such as prolonged standing or stair climbing can worsen the pain. Sometimes, the condition is difficult to diagnose, as it can be misinterpreted for other causes of low back pain.

Causes of Sacroiliitis

The major causes for sacroiliitis involve:

  • Injury: Any sudden impact, such as an unexpected motor vehicle accident or a fall, can damage your sacroiliac joints.
  • Arthritis: Due to arthritis, there would be wear and tear in the sacroiliac joints, and conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis can also cause sacroiliitis.
  • Pregnancy: At the time of labor, the sacroiliac joints tend to loosen and stretch for accommodating childbirth. Due to alterations in the gait and increase in weight there would be extra pressure on the joints and can lead to abnormal wear, and finally sacroiliitis.
  • Infection: In few situations, the sacroiliac joints can be infected.

Sacroiliitis Symptoms

The common symptoms associated with sacroiliitis are pain near the buttocks and lower back. The pain can also extend towards the legs, groin, and even feet. The pain severity increases by prolonged standing, climbing stairs, running, bearing more weight on one leg compared to another leg.

Complications

The common complications due to painful sacroiliitis are insomnia and depression.

Diagnosis

Initially, your doctor will perform a physical examination to find out the exact spot where your pain arises from, and then presses the areas on the hips and buttocks where commonly the pain initiates. He/ she might move your legs in different angles to stress the sacroiliac joints.

Imaging tests

To determine the extent of damage to your sacroiliac joints, your doctor would order X-ray imaging. If your doctor finds evidence of ankylosing spondylitis, then he/she would order further tests such as MRI.

Anesthetic injections

As the lower back pain may have many causes, your doctor might suggest the use of anesthesia for the diagnosis. If it stops your pain, it's obvious that the problem is in your sacroiliac joint.

The treatment mainly depends on the underlying cause of your pain. Your doctor might recommend:

  • Pain killers- to relieve pain
  • Muscle relaxants-to reduce the muscle spasms often associated with sacroiliitis
  • Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors-are prescribed to relieve sacroiliitis associated with ankylosing spondylitis.

To help you increase joint flexibility, your physical therapist would recommend stretching exercises and range-of-motion improving tips.

Your doctor might suggest other methods to alleviate your pain if the above medications do not work out.

  • Injections: to reduce inflammation and pain, your doctor would administer corticosteroids.
  • Radiofrequency denervation: This technique damages or destroys the pain-causing nerve tissue.
  • Electrical stimulation: Electrical stimulator is fixed near the joint and reduces the pain caused by sacroiliitis.
  • Joint fusion: Surgery is rarely used to treat sacroiliitis, your doctor would fuse the two bones together with metal hardware which helps in relieving pain caused due to sacroiliitis.

FAQ- Sacroiliitis

The treatment mainly depends on the underlying cause of your pain Pain killers to relieve pain, Muscle relaxants to reduce the muscle spasms, Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors to relieve sacroiliitis associated with ankylosing spondylitis.