Eight percent of all Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. It is the second most common cause of disability. Doctors are becoming more educated on the causes and treatments for low back pain. One potential cause is the sacroiliac (SI) joint. The SI joint is located in the pelvis. It links the pelvic bone to the sacrum. This joint can be injured or deteriorate over time causing low back, leg, pelvic, or buttock pain.
Unfortunately, the SI joint is often overlooked. With the prevalence of disc treatment for back pain, the SI joint is sometimes neglected. Orthopaedic and neurosurgeons are rarely taught to consider the SI joint as the potential cause of a patient’s back pain. Most of the treatments for the spine are still centered on disc surgery.
A properly functioning SI joint will provide stability for the pelvis and bear the load of the upper body. SI joint dysfunction can occur as a result of childbirth, trauma, degeneration, or other conditions. The pain however, may not be in the SI joint itself but in the soft tissues that surround the SI joint or other areas of the body.
There are several different treatment options for patients with SI joint dysfunction. Some people improve with exercises and physical therapy. Others need therapeutic injections. Finally, an SI joint fusion can be considered to alleviate chronic pain. In the fusion procedure, a small incision is made along the side of the buttock. Titanium implants will then be placed across the SI joint. The whole procedure takes about an hour, and the healing time is significantly less than in open surgery. SI joint fusion may be appropriate for patients who have been diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction and who have not responded to less invasive therapies. Give us a call at Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group to see what the best treatment option is for you. Our spine physicians are eager to help – Dr. James Bee, Dr. Roger Sung, and Dr. Paul Stanton. 719-632-7669