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All About the SI Joint

All About the SI Joint

If you’re dealing with nagging pain in your lower back that never seems to go away, it might be your sacroiliac (SI) joint. This lesser-known yet crucial part of your anatomy — situated where your spine meets your pelvis — plays a pivotal role in distributing the load from your upper body to your lower body. 

In essence, the SI joint is a critical bridge in your body that ensures smooth and pain-free movement. However, when things go awry with this small but mighty joint, it can lead to debilitating pain and discomfort.

At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, provides comprehensive treatment for lower back pain. Due to its location at the lowest part of the spine, the SI joint is a frequent cause of pain in the low back. If Dr. Jones diagnoses you with SI joint-related problems, several treatment options can help you get relief.

The role of the SI joint

The SI joint is responsible for transferring weight and forces between your upper body and lower body. It helps maintain stability when you’re standing or walking and allows a small amount of movement to accommodate changes in body position. 

Its role is so crucial that any impairment can disrupt the harmony of your daily movements, making simple tasks like sitting, standing, or walking feel like a chore.

Common SI joint issues

Pain in the SI joint, known as sacroiliac joint dysfunction, can arise from various causes. These range from conditions like arthritis and pregnancy to injuries, infections, or even a simple misalignment. Often, the pain can be mistaken for other types of lower back or hip pain. 

Prevention and maintenance

Understanding your body is the first step toward achieving optimal health. Regular exercise, good posture, and a balanced diet contribute significantly to the health of your SI joint. Engaging in activities that strengthen your core and improve flexibility can prevent SI joint problems from occurring.

Treatment options

Once Dr. Jones confirms a diagnosis of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, discussing treatment options is the next step. Depending on the root cause and severity of your pain, treatments may involve medication or injection therapy or, in severe cases, surgery. 

Noninvasive options

Our first approach usually involves nonsurgical methods. For example, referring you for physical therapy teaches you exercises designed to strengthen the muscles around your SI joint, reducing stress and improving stability. Dr. Jones may also recommend heat or cold therapy, therapeutic massage, and relaxation techniques. 

Lifestyle changes, such as diet modifications or weight management programs, help alleviate pressure on the joint. In addition, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can provide temporary relief from mild to moderate pain.

Minimally invasive options

Nerve blocks or SI joint injections involve injecting a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid into the joint to numb the area and reduce inflammation. This option provides temporary relief for many patients, and the injections can be repeated up to three times a year.

Radiofrequency ablation uses an electrical current to destroy the nerve fibers carrying pain signals in the joint so you don’t feel pain. It’s an effective long-term treatment for chronic SI joint pain.

Surgical options

Dr. Jones specializes in minimally invasive surgery. SI joint fusion significantly improves pain and quality of life in patients with SI joint dysfunction. Dr. Jones has helped many patients using the pioneering iFuse Implant System®. 

Living with SI joint pain

When dealing with SI joint pain, daily life can become a challenging ordeal. Regular tasks such as walking, lifting objects, or even sitting for long periods might cause discomfort. However, it's essential to remember that help is available.

Adjustments to your lifestyle can often alleviate some of the pain and discomfort associated with SI joint dysfunction. These may include using assistive devices for mobility, practicing mindful movements to avoid stress on the joint, and incorporating relaxation techniques to manage pain effectively.

The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas is committed to working with you to develop a personalized pain management plan. This plan not only addresses your immediate pain but also focuses on long-term strategies to improve your quality of life. 

SI joint pain is not static; it can change over time, and so does our approach in managing it. If you’re ready to take the next step toward a life with less pain, call us in Pearland or Jackson, Texas, to schedule a visit with Dr. Jones today.

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