Sacroiliac joint pain

SI joint pain

A condition causing pain and numbness in the lower body, including the back buttocks and legs.

About sacroiliac joint pain

The sacroiliac joint or SI joint is the joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis linking the lower spine and the pelvis. When the sacroiliac joints at the base of your spine stop working properly, it can sometimes cause lower back and leg pain. The pain can present similar symptoms to sciatica and can be hard to diagnose. However, there are treatment available, such as pain relief and physiotherapy.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of sacroiliac joint pain? icon plus

    SI joints are at the base of the spine and support the upper body when you stand up. The joints can become worn or inflamed, causing pain in the lower body.

    Symptoms include:

    • pain in the lower back, pelvis, buttocks and hips
    • pain as you go from sitting to standing
    • a feeling that your leg may give way
    • tingling in the lower parts of your body
    • pain when you sit still for too long

    A nasty fall onto the buttocks, wear and tear, repeated stress and hypermobility during pregnancy may cause SI joint pain. Spine arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis) can cause inflammation of the SI joint and is another source of SI pain.

  • Diagnosing sacroiliac joint pain icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss your symptoms and medical history with you. They will also carry out a physical exam and do some simple physical tests to help identify the source of the pain.

    If your consultant thinks you may have SI joint pain, they may order further tests. These include:

    • MRI scans: these will help your consultant see your soft tissues and any inflammation in your SI joints
    • X-rays of your lower back and pelvis to determine the cause of the pain

    For sacroiliac joint infections: pain relief and local anaesthetic is injected into the SI joints, if the pain is relieved, the SI joints are likely to be the cause of the problem.

  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Physiotherapy (pelvic stabilisation exercises), pain relief and ice packs provide effective relief to SI joint pain symptoms. Braces to support the SI joint are another form of treatment.

    Your consultant may suggest a type of of injection therapy to alleviate pain and reduce swelling. This might be an epidural injections, nerve block injections, soft tissue injections and spinal joint injection therapies. Injection therapy is much less invasive than an operation and could help significantly relieve your back pain symptoms without the need for open surgery.

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Lower back pain

The Spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae and between each is a disc which acts a shock absorber in the spinal column. Sometimes these discs can wear out and press on the spinal cord or nerves causing lower back pain

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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