What Is the SI Joint?

What Is the SI Joint?

Clinicians estimate that 15-30% of low back pain is caused by dysfunction of the sacroiliac joints or SI joints. Your SI joints function a bit differently than your other joints but serve a crucial purpose. 

Dr. Ron Ben-Meir and Dr. Sagar Parikh at Downtown Pain Management are experts in diagnosing and treating conditions that cause pain, including sacroiliitis, or dysfunction in the SI joints. SI joint dysfunction can be difficult to diagnose for numerous reasons, but if you’re experiencing low back pain, pain that radiates down your legs, or your pelvis feels unstable, sacroiliitis could be the issue. 

SI joint location and function

You have two SI joints, connecting each side of your pelvis to the small triangular bone, called the sacrum, that is between your last vertebrae and your tailbone. Your SI joints aren’t hinged joints like your knee or elbow, and they aren’t ball and socket joints like your hip and shoulder. 

In fact, your SI joints don’t move much at all. Their main function is to connect your spine to your pelvis, distribute the weight of your upper body evenly across your pelvis, help you bend forward and back, and to absorb shock when you move. Much of the work of your SI joints are performed by the ligaments and soft tissues that support the joint. 

What goes wrong with the SI joints

Sacroiliitis is a general term that encompasses several different things that can cause pain and inflammation in and around your SI joints. You can have sacroiliitis in one or both SI joints. 

Several forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, can affect your SI joints. Osteoarthritis is sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis because it results from use over time and often impacts older people. Other types of arthritis can also cause pain in your SI joints. 

If you have a traumatic injury, such as an automobile accident or bad fall, it can cause sacroiliitis. If you have a gait dysfunction, such as having one leg that’s longer than the other, you can develop sacroiliitis. Sometimes pregnancy can cause sacroiliitis as it may disrupt your normal walking pattern. 

Treating SI joint dysfunction

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you that if you have sacroiliitis, we can give you a simple diagnostic test and then give you a well-known treatment that makes you better. Instead, we need to determine the underlying cause of your sacroiliitis, then get you the right treatment for that condition. 

For example, if your sacroiliitis is because you have gout, which is also a form of arthritis, we can help you control your gout with medication and lifestyle changes. 

Depending on the reason for your SI joint dysfunction, the treatment may vary. Physical therapy, exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your SI joints, medication, and even surgery are all possible ways to treat sacroiliitis, but it all depends on why your joint is inflamed and malfunctioning. 

If you’re in pain, schedule an appointment at Downtown Pain Management. Our experts are happy to discuss your situation in the context of your specific symptoms, and determine if you may have SI joint issues. We have locations in Shrewsbury and Hoboken for your convenience. 

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