Diagnosing and Treating Sacroliitis

Diagnosing and Treating Sacroliitis

January 22, 2014

What Is It?

Sacroiliitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the sacroiliac joints. These two joints are located on either side of the sacrum, where your spine connects to your pelvis (the iliac bone). It is closely related to sacroiliac joint dysfunction, which involves the sacroiliac joint moving abnormally (too much, or too little), causing inflammation.

What Are the Major Symptoms?

Sacroiliitis can be difficult to diagnose at times because it is easy to mistake it for other causes of lower back pain. The most common symptom is pain in the lower back, buttocks and hips, which can also extend down the legs. However, there are a few things that make pain from Sacroiliitis different, including:

  • pain in the legs will often be felt at the front of the thigh;
  • pain that is worse after sitting for a long while, or worse when shifting position, such as rolling over;
  • stiffness that effects the hips and lower back, and is especially pronounced when sitting for a long period of time or upon waking up.

What Causes Sacroiliitis?

There are a variety of causes, ranging from trauma to inflammatory conditions, such as various kinds of arthritis that involve the spine. Osteoarthritis, arthritis associated with psoriasis, and other rheumatological illnesses (like lupus) have also been associated with Sacroiliitis. Falls, car accidents, and other injuries that involve the lower back can be causes, as can childbirth (when the pelvis widens and the sacroiliac joints are stretched).

What Are The Treatment Options?

Like any kind of inflammation, Sacroiliitis can be treated with rest and anti-inflammatory medications. Alternating heat and cold to the area can also be effective, as the cold will provide some pain relief and reduce the swelling and inflammation, whereas the heat will increase circulation and help with healing. Using a hot tub can be particularly effective. Changing sleep position is also highly recommended, as this will greatly reduce the increased pain patients often experience when first waking up: sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs will keep your hips properly aligned and reduce stiffness. Long term, patients benefit greatly from exercises that stretch and strengthen the back and hips, providing extra support for the sacroiliac joints.


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