Unfortunately, 8% of all American adults experience persistent lower back pain. One of the root causes of this is damage to the sacroiliac joint (SI Joint). This low-motion joint is a shock absorber for the body’s lower torso between the hip bones – essentially the point where the spine connects to the pelvis.
The sacroiliac joint or SI joint, when inflamed, can result in lower back pain as well as discomfort in the hips and pelvic area. This article will look at the primary causes and symptoms of sacroiliac joint pain. The most important factor to keep in mind is that the sacroiliac pain is usually referred pain, meaning that the origin of the pain comes from the spine or another location rather than the SI joint itself. A sacroiliac joint fusion is a new procedure that in a small number of cases may be a good, long-term treatment option for those seeking relief. However, like for any new procedure, patients should proceed carefully and get a variety of opinions before having surgery.
Symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
While those suffering from sacroiliac joint dysfunction may experience more than one symptom, the most common symptoms reported by patients include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain in the hips, particularly the back of the hips
- Instability in the legs
- Pain or stiffness in the groin or pelvic area
Often times this discomfort feels like a stabbing pain that radiates from the hips up to the lower back and down across the thighs.
Primary Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Disfunction
There’s no single cause for sacroiliac joint disfunction but a host of potential reasons that can be at the root of the problem. It may result from wear and tear due to age, injury/infection, pregnancy, or a pre-existing condition that breaks down cartilage and results in degeneration of the joint. It’s believed that the sacroiliac joint contributes to the cause of pain for up to 30% of people suffering from lower back pain.
How Can SI Fusion Help?
While many patients suffering from sacroiliac joint pain can find relief from the discomfort through prescription medication or physical therapy, sometimes surgery is the best option. As with any fusion surgery, the goal of sacroiliac joint fusion is to fuse or grow the bones together. In this case, a surgeon makes a small incision and uses metal pins or screws to lock the two bones of the joint together so that they eventually fuse.
If a bone graft is needed, soft tissues around the sacroiliac joint are cleared out, and a bone graft is packed into the joint space.
The surgery is not only considered minimally invasive but only takes about an hour, and most patients go home the same day. Typically, patients will need to rest for three to four weeks after the surgery before returning to work. Everyday activities such as driving and a full recovery can take six months or longer.
SI fusion is performed by spine surgeons, neurosurgeons as well as pain management physicians. At Texas Neuro-Spine Surgery, we always advocate getting at least 2 opinions before consenting to any new procedure such as SI joint fusion. One of these opinions should be from a board certified neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon to be sure you have the correct diagnosis for the cause of your sacroiliac pain.
If you’re suffering from chronic lower back pain and would like to learn more about sacroiliac joint fusion and other treatments, contact the team at Texas Neuro-Spine Surgery today.