When you first start to experience SI joint inflammation the tendency is to think it is just another back ache. As time goes on and the pain becomes worse, trips to the chiropractor may be in order, but they often won’t do a thing.
SI joint inflammation is an autoimmune disorder that affects the sacroiliac joints in the body. These joints are difficult to treat as they are not only key motion joints, but they are two of the greatest load bearing joints in the human body.
Where are the Sacroiliac joints?
The sacroiliac joints are the joints located near your lower back that are formed from where the sacral bone connects to the pelvic area. The bones are connected by two ligaments. The sacral bone is shaped like a triangle and has 5 vertebrae that are fused together; this is a part of what gives your lower core its strength.
The iliac bones are the rising bones on the rear of the pelvis. The connecting ligaments allow you to turn and twist at your wait. When you have SI joint inflammation it is either the ligaments themselves that become inflamed, or the layers of cartilage that shield the ligaments from the bone during movements that are inflamed.
What makes them inflamed?
There are several different ways in which SI joint inflammation can occur. The first is from an inflammation of the ligaments themselves. The second is from inflammation to the protective cartilage layers surrounding the joints.
The inflammation are a result of an overactive autoimmune system that is either sending cells to fight a bacteria that is not present, and thus destroying healthy cells – or it can be sending too many healthy cells to rebuild the cartilage when they are not needed, which then bears down on the ligaments and causes them to become inflamed.
There are two groupings of potential causes for sacroiliac joint inflammation. They are –
- Weight-bearing stress
- Autoimmune inflammatory disorders
The sacroiliac joints are two of the major load bearing joints in the body. They are also mobility joints, which means that anything that can add weight to the body, and change the way that you walk can cause SI joint inflammation. The two biggest causes of the weight bearing stress are pregnancy and obesity. Both will strain the ligaments and but load stress on the joint, compressing the cartilage and damaging it.
SI joint inflammation can also be caused by several autoimmune inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Anything that can affect the autoimmune systems and its actions towards cell health can spur the joint into inflammation.
What is the treatment for SI joint inflammation?
There are four main approaches to treating SI joint inflammation, cortisone injections, steroids, pain relievers and physical therapy. One of the newer treatments that helps to relieve pain and inflammation is the use of medical marijuana which has proven to be successful in treating other back conditions.
While cortisone, steroids, medical marijuana and medication can help to temporarily relieve suffering – the most effective treatment remains physical therapy. Much of the pain and discomfort felt during SI joint inflammation is from the joint moving too little, or too much.
Physical therapy begins to return controlled motion to the joint which allows it to retain functionality while also radically decreasing pain. Many doctors will use drugs to relieve the initial suffering but then look to physical therapy as the long term maintenance procedure. It is also important that any underlying autoimmune condition be managed as well.
Who is most at risk?
SI joint inflammation is more common in women due to how the joint is within the female human body and the aggravator of pregnancy to the condition. It can affect anyone at any age and people who have an existing chronic condition or autoimmune disorder are very susceptible to developing a problem with their sacroiliac joint.
It should also be noted that it is a common condition that can develop as a result of a change in gate as well. Trauma or injury to the legs or hips, even if temporary, can result in a change of gate that if it is not corrected can lead to SI joint inflammation.
What happens if your SI joint inflammation doesn’t get better?
There is a surgical treatment for SI joint inflammation that is very effective in relieving pain and suffering from the condition, but that is only approached as a last resort. During the surgical procedure, the sacroiliac joints are fused, making movement impossible.
While this will relieve the pain of the disorder, it will also radically reduce your mobility and could shift inflammation to other joints as well. The best course of treatment remains anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and supporting treatment for any contributing conditions.
What should I do if I have SI joint inflammation?
If you suspect that you have SI joint inflammation you should talk with your doctor. Because the joint is so close to the pelvis and hips, it can be hard to identify the specific source of the pain without diagnostic tests. The test can take many different forms, from cat scans and x-rays, to an MRI and manual manipulation test.
One test that can be very effective is to have the doctor inject the SI joint with a mix of a lidocaine and steroid, if this relieves the pain then you have identified that the SI joint is inflamed. Most often, what people think is a sacroiliac problem may actually be a problem with the alignment of the hips.
That can cause pain throughout the same region, but more so in the hip area. An MRI is helpful for looking at the tissue surrounding the joint to see if the SI joint inflammation is caused by a mobility or stress issue, or if there may be an underlying autoimmune disorder causing the problem. This is why you shouldn’t try to treat this type of inflammation on your own; it can be a mask for the presence of a more serious disorder.