By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is caused by damage or injury to the joint connecting the spine and hip. SI joint pain is characterised as a sharp, stabbing pain that radiates from your hips and pelvis, up to lower back, and down to the thighs. Leg pain from Sacroiliac (SI) Joint often mistaken with sciatica (pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg) as their symptoms can be quite similar.
Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain ranges from mild to severe depending on the extent and cause of injury. The most symptoms of SI pain include:
- Shooting pain starts in the lower back, buttock and may radiate to the lower hip, groin or upper thigh.
- Pain usually one sided but possible in both legs.
- Numbness or tingling sensation on the leg
- Stiffness or a burning sensation in the pelvis
- Feeling weakness
Symptoms may worsen when sitting, standing, or walking for long periods of time. Pain can be worsened when carrying out transitional movements (e.g: sitting to standing) and climbing stairs.
SI joint pain can occur a number of conditions, including the following:
- Ankylosing Spondylitis (an inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the small bones in your spine to fuse)
- Gout (It is a painful form of arthritis and is often found in the big toe)
- Abnormal walking patterns
Non- surgical Treatment
Treatment options for SI joint pain are usually non-surgical and focus on trying to restore normal motion in the joint. This can include the following:
- Apply heat or ice and rest to reduce inflammation and irritation.
- Oral medications. Doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medicines and pain killers to ease the pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy and Sacroiliac Joint Exercise can strengthen the nearby muscles at the sacroiliac joint and consequently increase its stability.
- Injections. An anti-inflammatory medications are injected into the joint to help reduce local inflammation and alleviate the pain.
Surgical treatment for sacroiliac joint dysfunction is rarely done. But if symptoms are severe and persistent and due to instability, the doctor may recommend stabilising your joint with sacroiliac joint fusion.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.