SI joint osteoarthritis can be the cause of pain in the buttocks, on the side of the hip, and the lower back. Those affected may feel this pain when getting out of a car, when standing for extended periods, or when walking slowly. The condition is degenerative. That means damage is permanent and wear cannot be repaired. However, progression of the condition can be positively influenced with the right treatment that needs to be started early.
What is SI joint osteoarthritis?
SI is the abbreviation for sacroiliac, which is the joint that connects the spine and the pelvis between the sacral bone and the iliac bone. It is also known as the iliosacral joint, and is a tight joint with little mobility of just a few millimeters. This rigidity is ensured by a strong system of ligaments that surrounds the entire pelvic girdle. The load of the upper body is distributed to the hip joint and therefore the legs via this joint. SI joint osteoarthritis is degenerative wear of the joint cartilage and joint surface. The result can be pain that can lead to restrictions in movement in the back and hip area. SI joint problems can also become chronic.
SI joint osteoarthritis: causes and development
The most common cause of SI joint osteoarthritisis inappropriate mechanical stress of the sacroiliac joints, for example triggered by incorrect or one-sided training or having legs with different lengths that can change the position of the pelvis. As a result, the joint cartilage starts to wear. In turn, the bones involved can change shape and cause a misalignment of the pelvis. SI joint osteoarthritiscan occur on the left, right, or both sides.
Other causes include previous injuries in the pelvic area, inflammation of the SI joint, or being overweight. Age-related degenerative wear of the affected joint surface can also lead to the development of SI joint osteoarthritisover time.
SI joint osteoarthritis and its typical symptoms
Those affected often suffer from hip problems, severe pain in the lower back area, and limited mobility. Pain occurs suddenly during movement and can radiate into the legs. Initially, it occurs only when subjected to strain, for example when walking or standing for extended periods. For many patients, the symptoms are worst in the morning and reduce over the course of the day.
When the condition progresses, even minor bending and twisting movements of the upper body cause pain. Those affected then often adopt a posture to help relieve pain. If SI joint osteoarthritis becomes chronic, pain will be permanent and additionally worsen when subjected to strain. Those affected will then be restricted during everyday activities and have to live with the pain.
A summary of typical symptoms:
- Hip pain
- Pain in the lower back
- Restricted movement
Being overweight exerts excessive pressure on the SI joint. Therefore, weight loss is an important part of treatment for many affected.
How is SI joint osteoarthritis diagnosed?
Based on non-specific back pain in the early stages of the condition, many patients first visit their family physician. Using provocation tests, a physician can exert strain on the SI joint and therefore trigger pain typically associated with SI joint osteoarthritis. This makes detecting the location of the problem possible.
Imaging techniques, such as MRI and CT, can help with the diagnosis and give an early indication whether the cause is an inflammatory process or SI joint osteoarthritis. X-rays are used to detect misalignments and wear of the joint surface. When the condition has progressed, X-rays can provide clear information and show changed joint structures. The images show a reduced joint space as well as wear of the cartilaginous joint areas.
SI joint osteoarthritis – treatment and outlook
Damage caused to the joint and joint cartilage cannot be repaired. The first goal of treatment is therefore the reduction of acute symptoms, particularly of pain in the buttocks and legs. Heat treatments can alleviate these, for example using fangotherapy packs or heat cushions. To relieve tension in the surrounding tissue, physicians also prescribe massages. The mobility of the SI joint can be improved with physiotherapy.
Orthoses as an effective addition to treatment in cases of SI joint osteoarthritis
Treating SI joint osteoarthritistargets the relief of the affected areas as well as pain reduction. These goals can be supported perfectly with orthoses because they stabilize the sacroiliac joints. The SacroLoc additionally promotes a straight pelvis and relieves the local ligaments, thanks to tensioning straps on the orthosis. Furthermore, the tensioning strap system precisely positions the two cushions (pads) located on the back that provide a targeted massage of trigger points and exert their effect on the stabilizing muscles and ligaments.
Patients with SI joint osteoarthritisbenefit from reduced pain because the SacroLocloosens tension, provides relief, and offers a high degree of wearing comfort. The practical Velcro fastening with wide finger loops makes it easy to put on the orthosis. Thanks to its low-profile abdominal fastening, the SacroLoc can be worn subtly under clothing and is therefore perfect for everyday use.
Which surgical measures may be used in cases of SI joint osteoarthritis?
If severe pain in the buttocks can be felt permanently, and conservative measures do not reduce the symptoms, surgery will be the last resort. During surgery, a procedure known as stiffening (arthrodesis) can be carried out where the surgeon bolts together the sacral bone and the iliac bone.
The use of an orthosis, such as the SacroLoc, is also beneficial after surgery to stabilize the pelvis and the SI joint during recovery and to support the healing process perfectly.