Sacroiliitis: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

By: Emily Lunardo | Bone Health | Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 10:30 AM

sacroiliitisSacroiliitis is a condition that causes pain in the lower back and buttocks. The part connecting the lower spine and pelvis is known as the sacroiliac joint, and the inflammation of this joint is known as sacroiliitis. Sacroiliitis is associated with other inflammatory arthritis conditions. The pain caused by sacroiliitis can travel through the lower back and buttocks, and sometimes even down into the legs and feet.

Here you will learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of sacroiliitis, as it can be a difficult condition to diagnose. By understanding the signs and symptoms, you’ll be able to relay how you feel to your doctor, who can give you the appropriate treatment.

Sacroiliitis causes, risk factors, and complications

There are a variety of causes of sacroiliitis, including arthritis, pregnancy, traumatic injury, infections, IV drug use or drug addiction, rheumatological diseases such as lupus, and psoriasis.

If you have a history of bone, joint, or skin infections, experience a repeated injury to specific joints, have a urinary tract infection, or are an illicit drug user, then you may be at a higher risk of developing sacroiliitis.

If left untreated, sacroiliitis can lead to further chronic pain experienced elsewhere in the body—along with depression and insomnia—as living in pain can keep you up at night and negatively affect your mood.

Sacroiliitis symptoms

The primary symptom of sacroiliitis is pain experienced in the pelvic and buttock area. This pain may also travel down the legs into the ankle and foot. Pain experienced from sacroiliitis can be worsened by standing, bearing more weight on one leg than the other, stair climbing, running, and taking large strides.

Diagnosing sacroiliitis

There are numerous causes of lower back pain, so diagnosing sacroiliitis can be a bit of a challenge. To properly diagnose sacroiliitis, your doctor will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination. As for imaging tests, your doctor may recommend an X-ray or MRI to differentiate between sacroiliitis and another similar condition, ankylosing spondylitis.

To further aid with diagnosis, your doctor may recommend the use of a numbing agent injection. For example, if you get an injection in your sacroiliac joint and the pain goes away, then that can narrow in on where the pain stems from. On the other hand, the injection may travel, which makes this test at times unreliable.

Treating sacroiliitis

There are a variety of treatment methods for sacroiliitis, which are a mix of natural remedies and medical interventions. These treatment methods include getting rest and avoiding physical activity, applying a heat or cold pack to reduce inflammation and ease muscle tension, changing sleep positions, taking pain-relieving medications and muscle relaxants, and performing sacroiliitis-specific exercises. Surgery may also be an option in some cases.

Exercises for sacroiliitis

Quadriceps stretch: While standing, bend your knee at a 90-degree angle so your heel is towards your lower back. Use your hand to grab onto your foot ankle and gently pull. You should feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold this position for a few seconds and release gently.

Prone leg lifts: This exercise helps stretch your hip muscles. Begin by laying on your stomach. Raise your leg by using your gluteal and hamstring muscles. Go as far as possible, hold, and lower the leg back down. Repeat this exercise a few times.

Hip stretch: Lay on your back and slide one foot as far as you can up the opposite leg. This motion will naturally turn out your hip, and your legs should be in a “figure four” position. Hold this position for a few seconds before sliding your foot back down. Repeat this exercise on each leg a few times a day.

If you’re uncomfortable with these exercises, you can work alongside a physiotherapist to ensure you have the technique down.

Related: Lower back pain eased with meditation


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Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sacroiliitis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20166359

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