What is sacroiliitis?
Your pelvis is composed of several different bones and joints. Like all joints, the joints in your pelvis are susceptible to inflammation and wear and tear. The sacroiliac joints (SI joints) join the bones of your pelvis (the ilium) to the lower part of your spine (the sacrum). As a joint that supports the upper and lower body, it is under a lot of stress.
When the SI joints become irritated, worn out, or inflamed, it can be quite painful. If one of your SI joints is inflamed, the pain you feel is similar to the painful conditions the lower back can create when it is injured.
There are many reasons the SI joint can become inflamed and painful. It's essential to know what they are and what can cause them so you can help your doctor diagnose and treat the condition.
Symptoms of sacroiliitis
The one symptom of sacroiliitis is pain, which can be felt in a variety of areas. Doctors often misdiagnose the condition because the symptoms it presents mimic other conditions. You might feel pain in the:
- Lower back
Types of sacroiliitis
A variety of conditions and circumstances can cause sacroiliitis. There are many influencers of sacroiliitis, so it is broken down into three types:
Inflammatory sacroiliitis happens when your sacroiliac joint tissue becomes inflamed for various reasons that are not degenerative or organic. Pyogenic sacroiliitis is the joint's inflammation due to an infection. Degenerative sacroiliitis forms because a degenerative bone or joint condition caused it.
Causes of sacroiliitis
The sacroiliac joint can be irritated and become inflamed if you have degenerative conditions that are causing you to walk, run, or move differently than normal. A degenerative condition commonly seen as a cause of sacroiliitis is spondyloarthritis, or arthritis that affects the spine.
Axial spondyloarthritis can develop in the lumbar vertebrae, which can cause the vertebrae to fuse. This vertebral fusion decreases the amount of flexibility in the spine and makes the sacroiliac joint move differently, causing it to become irritated and inflamed.
Osteoarthritis, also known as wear and tear arthritis, is the most common arthritis diagnosed by doctors. As you go about your life and wear out your body, your joints and skeleton tend to wear down. The more active you are, the faster your joints wear out.
Osteoarthritis usually affects the hips (among other joints), which can cause you to move and walk differently. As with a spinal degenerative condition, your sacroiliac joint becomes inflamed and starts hurting.
Rarely, a viral or bacterial infection can cause sacroiliitis. Pyogenic sacroiliitis causes pain while breaking down bone and muscle around the area.
Pregnancy causes the sacroiliac joints to loosen and stretch to prepare for birth. The stress of childbirth, walking differently, and weight gain can cause the joint to wear or become inflamed. A traumatic injury, such as a fall or automobile accident, can also cause damage to your SI joint or other related joints and bones that might cause you to alter your gait and movements.
When to see the doctor for sacroiliitis
If you're experiencing pain in your pelvic region, hips, lower back, feet, or groin, see your doctor. Sacroiliitis is not life-threatening unless you have an infection that is causing it. If you experience any signs of infection such as fever or confusion, go to the emergency room immediately.
When you see your doctor for pain in the lower parts of your body, they will ask specific questions to find the areas that they need to look at. If they isolate the cause of pain in your hip and lower back area, one of the tests for inflammation of your sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is pressing on specific places on your hips and butt.
If they find tenderness or other pain during the press test, they'll order an X-ray or an MRI to look at your pelvis and see if the SI joint is inflamed. The doctor can order a CT scan for different views if the MRI and X-ray don't reveal inflammation or its cause.
Treatments for sacroiliitis
If the pain in your SI joint is from osteoarthritis or is degenerative, the doctor can prescribe pain relievers, muscle relaxers, or medicine known as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNF inhibitors) to relieve sacroiliitis inflammation. You might be prescribed physical therapy for your sacroiliitis to help you get joint flexibility back and strengthen the muscles around the joint.
If non-invasive methods don't alleviate your SI joint pain, the doctor can try corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation. Another option might be to implant an electric stimulation device into your sacrum that sends electrical signals through the joint to reduce pain. Other options might include radiofrequency denervation that disables the nerves involved in your sacroiliitis pain.
- Attachment Theory: What It Is, Stages & the Different Attachment Styles
- Gentle Parenting: What It Is, Techniques & Discipline
- U.S. Nursing Homes Fail to Report Many Serious Falls, Bedsores: Study
- The Younger You Get Diabetes, the Higher Your Risk for Dementia Later
- FDA Grants Full Approval to Paxlovid to Treat COVID-19
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Journal of Roentgenology: "Unilateral Sacroiliitis: Differential Diagnosis Between Infectious Sacroiliitis and Spondyloarthritis Based on MRI Findings."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Osteoarthritis (OA)."
National Center for Biological Information: "A Case of Acute Pyogenic Sacroiliitis and Bacteremia Caused by Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus."
National Center for Biological Information: "Sacroiliitis."
Top What Causes Sacroiliitis and Is It Serious Related Articles
Back Pain: Common Spine ProblemsThat stack of little bones along the center of your back has a key role to support and control your body. What happens when something's not right with your spine?
Back Pain QuizThere are numerous causes of chronic lower back pain and only one ailment gets more complaints. What is it? Quiz your knowledge of symptoms, treatments, problems, and reasons for common back pain.
Low Back Pain: 11 Stretches & Exercises for ReliefOne of the best low back pain treatments is exercise. Whether your pain is in the lower left or lower right back, learn more about low back pain exercises--what works, and what doesn't. Discover severe low back pain relief through various gentle workouts designed to protect and strengthen the lumbar, core, and other related back muscle groups.
Lower Back Pain (Lumbar Spine Pain)There are many causes of back pain. Pain in the low back can relate to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis, and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area.
Low Back Pain ReliefDo you suffer from low back pain? Learn more about common triggers of lower back pain like posture, exercise, and spondylosis. Find out about pain relief treatments like massage, yoga, stretching, exercises for back pain, and chiropractic medicine. See when surgery for back pain makes sense.
Pelvic Pain (in Women and Men)
Pelvic pain is described as pain, usually in the lower pelvic area. Causes of acute and chronic pelvic pain in women include endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts, tumors, or fibroids, ovulation, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or congestion syndrome, vulva pain, and rarely cancer. Pelvic pain during pregnancy may be caused by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy), preterm or premature labor, and placental abruption. Causes of pelvic pain in men include prostate problems, testicular pain, and groin pain. Causes of pelvic pain in men and women include kidney stones, appendicitis, UTIs, IBD, and STDs.
Signs and symptoms associated with pelvic pain depend on the cause, but man include pain during or after sexual intercourse, abdominal pain, distension, and tenderness, diarrhea, constipation, vaginal discharge or bleeding, blood, pus, in the urine, cloudy urine, blood in the stool, stool color changes, and low back pain. The cause of pelvic pain is diagnosed by a physical exam, blood tests, and imaging procedures. Treatment for pelvic pain depends on the cause.
Pelvic Pain SlideshowThere are many causes of pelvic pain and pain in the lower abdomen in women. Pelvic pain near the female lower abdomen has symptoms that can be uncomfortable, but luckily, there are treatments for pelvic pain if you can identify the cause.
What Can I Expect After a Sacroiliac Joint Injection?A sacroiliac (SI) joint injection is the injection of local anesthetics or corticosteroids into the SI joint to treat pain. The SI joint injection can be used as a treatment or as a diagnostic technique.
Sacroiliac (SI) Joint PainSacroiliac (SI) joint pain is a general term to reflect pain in the SI joints. Causes of SI joint pain include osteoarthritis, abnormal walking pattern, and disorders that can cause SI joint inflammation including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Treatment includes oral medications, cortisone injections, and surgery.
What Are the Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain?Lower back pain is one of the common types of complaints by the general population. It may happen due to poor posture, injury, stress, or poor sleeping facilities.
What Can I Do to Relieve My Back Pain?Back pain or backache is a common type of pain that may affect any age group depending on the cause.
What Exercises Relieve Sacroiliac Pain?Learn what causes your sacroiliac pain and three exercises to help you manage sacroiliac back pain.
What Is a Laparoscopic Sacrocolpopexy?Laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy is a minimally invasive surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse using a laparoscope (a thin, long, flexible instrument with a camera and light source at one end). Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which the structures that support the pelvic organs (the pelvic floor) become weak.
What Is a Sacrocolpopexy Procedure?Sacrocolpopexy is a procedure to surgically correct pelvic organ prolapse where a mesh holds the organ in the correct position inside the body. Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition caused by weakening of the support system in the pelvic floor. It is similar to a hernia in men.
What Is the Treatment for Sacroiliitis?Learn what medical treatments can help treat sacroiliitis and help you manage this sacroiliitis.