About Your SI Joint

The SI joints are located between the iliac bones and the sacrum, connecting the spine to the hips. The two joints provide support and stability and play a major role in absorbing impact when walking and lifting. Strong ligaments and muscles support the SI joints. There is a very small amount of motion in the joint for normal body flexibility.

As we age and our bones become arthritic, ligaments stiffen, cartilage wears down and bones may rub together causing pain. In addition to age, SI joint pain can occur as the result of a fall, work injury, car accident, pregnancy and childbirth, or as a result of hip or spine surgery. Further, scientific data shows pain from the SI joint can feel like disc or lower back pain. For this reason, SI joint disorders should always be considered in lower back pain diagnosis.

Consult your doctor to help distinguish if pain is from spinal disorders or SI joint dysfunction.

1. Weksler, Natan, et al. 2007. “The Role of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction in The Genesis of Lower back Pain: The Obvious is Not Always Right.” Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 127 (10): 885-88.

Symptoms of SI Joint Dysfunction

Dull, aching lower
back pain that can
range from mild

Sciatic-like pain in lower back or buttocks
or down legs

Stiffness and reduced

Numbness or tingling in legs

Pain climbing stairs 
or jogging

Difficulty moving from sitting to standing or bending at the waist

Indicators of (SI) Sacroiliac Joint Pain

Making a Diagnosis

A variety of tests performed during physical examination to help determine whether the SI joint is a source of your symptoms.

Tests include:

Additionally, X-ray, CT and/or MRI may be helpful in the diagnosis of SI joint
related problems. 

The most reliable method to accurately determine whether the SI joint is the cause of your pain is to inject the SI joint with a local anesthetic. The injection will be delivered under fluoroscopic imaging or CT guidance to verify accurate placement of the needle in the SI joint. If your symptoms are decreased by at least 75%, the SI joint may either be the source, or a major contributor, to your lower back pain.

Treatment Options

Treatments for SI joint dysfunction typically focus on alleviating pain and restoring normal motion in the joint. Most cases are effectively managed using non-surgical treatments, including: