Sacroiliac (SI) joint arthritis is a chronic degenerative condition of the joint that connects the pelvis with the lower back. SI joint arthritis usually causes pain, loss of function, and inflammation of the hips, pelvic region, and lower back.
Treatment for SI joint arthritis may include medicines, physical therapy, surgery, and lifestyle modifications.
This article explores the types, symptoms, causes, and treatment options for SI joint arthritis.
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The sacrum is a large, triangular-shaped bone located at the base of the spine, just above the tailbone. The ileum is the most significant and uppermost portion of the hip bone. The two bones interlock to reduce the chances of dislocation and allow little flexibility.
There are two SI joints on each side of the body connecting the spine to the pelvis.
The SI joint plays a significant role in the body’s mobility, stability, and resistance against shear forces.
As the largest axial joints in the body, both SI joints transfer the body’s weight and evenly distribute it from the lumbar spine to the lower extremities.
The following types of arthritis can affect the SI joint, resulting in SI arthritis. This includes:
OA is a chronic degenerative joint disorder, causing inflammation and changes in bone and joint tissues.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
RA occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues.
Although RA affects multiple joints in the hands, wrists, and knees, it can also affect the SI joint. RA of the SI joint
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is a degenerative autoimmune disease in which the immune system produces antibodies against the body. It is a multisystem disorder.
This means it can attack different healthy cells, tissues, and organs in the body, including the SI joint.
A 2020 study suggests that people with SLE have a greater chance of having arthritis in their SI joint than others.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS)
AS is a form of arthritis that causes inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine.
Inflammation due to AS can spread from the spine to the SI joint, causing pain and loss of spine movement. A person with this condition may have difficulty bending and climbing the stairs.
Research suggests that it is more common in males, and
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
Gout and pseudogout
Gout occurs when needle-like crystals from monosodium urate form in the joints. Pseudogout is due to crystals of calcium pyrophosphate (CPP). A buildup of uric acid crystals in the joint’s soft tissues can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.
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Reactive arthritis occurs when sexually transmitted or pathogenic bacteria spread to different parts of the body and invade healthy joints.
The National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) notes that the sacroiliac joints and large joints of the lower limbs are most often affected.
- stiffness or loss of flexibility
- limited range of movement
People may feel pain ranging from mild to severe in the hips, lower back, buttocks, groin, and one or both legs.
A person may experience any of these symptoms after:
- sitting, standing, or walking for long hours
- climbing the stairs
- placing too much weight on one leg or side of the body
If a person has lower back pain from SI joint arthritis, the doctor can recommend the following home remedies for temporary relief.
- applying an ice pack or hot compress to the painful area
- applying pain-relief cream
- physical therapy and exercise
The doctor will assess the cause and intensity of a person’s symptoms to determine the best treatment. This
The doctor can prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen. They may also prescribe strong painkillers such as corticosteroid injections if a person’s pain is severe.
Other medical therapies may include:
- muscle relaxers
- radiofrequency denervation, which uses radiofrequency to destroy pain-causing nerve tissues
- tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors to treat SI joint arthritis due to AS
The doctor will recommend surgery as a last option when other treatments, such as medications and self-care remedies, are ineffective. It may involve a joint fusion surgery where the doctor fuses two bones with a metal plate.
A person should contact a doctor if they are experiencing pain, inflammation, or loss of movement in the hip or lower back region.
Some people with a degenerative form of arthritis may need long-term treatment for their symptoms to improve.
The doctor will recommend the best way to manage their symptoms and relieve any pain related to the condition.
To diagnose the condition, a doctor can perform the following:
A person may be unable to prevent SI joint arthritis if a chronic health condition causes it. However, they can reduce their risks of developing the condition by:
- exercising regularly
- keeping a moderate body weight
- using pelvic girdle support belt if pregnant
- adopting good posture
- avoiding strenuous exercises
The SI joint connects the hip to the pelvis.
Common symptoms of SI joint arthritis include stiffness, swelling, and pain in the SI joint and surrounding connective tissues.
Types of arthritis that can cause SI joint arthritis, includes OA, RA, SLE, AS, PsA, gout, pseudogout, and reactive arthritis.
Other conditions, such as pregnancy, injury, and poor posture, can also cause pain in the SI joint.
To treat SI joint arthritis, a doctor may recommend medication, physical therapy, or surgery.