Sacroiliitis is a spinal condition that can be hard to accurately diagnose. That is because sacroiliitis symptoms are often mistaken for other types of back pain. The reliability of special tests for sacroiliac joint dysfunction have been reported differently over the years, with some studies suggesting very poor reliability, while studies have others conclude reasonable to good reliability and validity. Some recent studies have concluded that combining the findings from three or more sacroiliac joint tests results in reasonable accuracy in clinical diagnosis. However, if you have been diagnosed with sacroiliitis there are some very effective sacroiliitis treatments that you can do right at home!
What Is Sacroiliitis?
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction resulting in a clinical pain syndrome is a somewhat controversial topic. Schools of thought vary from those who consider involvement of the the sacroiliac joint as a rare cause of low back pain to those who consider it common. Those who uphold the latter view are often those involved in manual therapies.
Simply, sacroiliitis is inflammation of the sacroiliac joint (in fact any ailment that ends in -itis is inflammation eg. dermatitis is inflammation of the skin.)
The sacroiliac joints, or SI joints, are the two joints in the pelvis that connect the Sacrum to the Ilium which are are joined by strong ligaments on either side.
The SI joints are major weight bearing joints. They are very strong and do not have a lot of movement. Their main job is shock absorption, although they do allow a small amount of movement when we walk or run for example.
Sacroiliitis occurs when these joints become inflamed. This usually the result of the joint not working correctly (medically known as Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction) as a result of bad movement patterns (read more here). This can either be too much motion, or not enough motion of the SI joint. This can be the result of an injury such as a car accident, or may have accumulated over time through poor posture and excessive sitting.
The abnormal movement of the joint creates strain of the joint, which leads to inflammation.
Sacroiliitis can also be the result of arthritic conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, or infection among others. Some of these arthritic conditions have an affinity for the sacroiliac joint and should be considered when pain arising from these joints is suspected and particularly when the pattern is bilateral.
Sacroiliitis commonly causes lower back, buttock, groin, and hip pain. Occasionally the pain will travel down the leg and can be mistaken for Sciatica.
The pain is usually one sided, but can be across the entire low back, especially if both SI joints are affected. It is usually a mild to moderate dull ache.
Sacroiliitis pain can be worse after prolonged sitting, or standing in one spot. Running can also aggravate the pain.
Often there is a feeling of stiffness around the lower back and hips as well, particularly after getting out of bed in the morning or after sitting still for a prolonged period.
Sacroiliitis Treatment Options.
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Rest: A short period of rest may help the inflammation to settle and avoid re-aggravation.
Ice/Heat: Ice (in 10 minute applications) will help to reduce inflammation at the onset. Chronic cases may benefit from heat for 15 minutes at a time to increase blood flow to the area, bringing in healing nutrients.
Medications: Anti-inflammatories or injections will reduce pain and swelling, but don't actually fix the underlying cause.
Exercises: Pulling your knee to your chest on the affected side will help to stretch out tight hip muscles, and create some movement in the SI joint if it is not moving enough.
Squats are also good for strengthening the hip muscles that add some support to the SI joints, and may help in stabilising SI joints that are moving too much.
Chiropractic/Physical Therapy: Particularly helpful if the SI joint is not moving enough. Gentle treatments of the affected joint can help to restore better motion, reducing strain on the joint.
Surgery: Only extreme cases of sacroiliitis will require surgical fusion, and it quite rare for this to be an option.
Sacroiliitis symptoms can be quite debilitating, but usually it is more of an annoying dull ache and not severe pain. Unfortunately it often becomes an ongoing chronic problem unless the underlying cause is corrected (check out the Total Back Pain Solution spinal rehabilitation course).
Luckily, sacroiliitis treatment is very successful most of the time, and the results are usually achieved quite quickly. It is always recommended to seek professional advice to be sure the treatment option you choose is the best one for you.
If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.