What is Sacroiliitis?

 In back pain, Spine Surgery

Just about anyone familiar with back problems has heard the term “sacroiliitis.” But exactly what is sacroiliitis? How does sacroiliitis occur? Could your lower back pain be caused by sacroiliitis, and what can be done to alleviate its symptoms? These are among the questions and issues we plan to address in our next few blogs, because sacroiliitis is not only a serious spinal condition, but it’s a back problem that is often misdiagnosed.

Sacroiliitis is a condition that has its genesis in a sacroiliac joint, a major weight-bearing joint interposed between the hip, or pelvis, and the spine. The sacroiliac joint is responsible for transferring weight and force between your upper body and legs, and thus is vital to proper movement and function. Sacroiliitis can occur if the sacroiliac joint is injured or becomes inflamed or diseased, or due to natural degeneration, and the condition can lead to painful, irreversible changes in the sacroiliac joint.

Sacroiliitis can occur after trauma to the pelvis or as a result of inflammatory disorders such as ankylosing spondylitis. Other causes of sacroiliitis include degenerative changes in an already arthritic sacroiliac joint, and the condition is also seen in patients with a history of lumbar surgeries. In women, postpartum sacroiliac pain after vaginal delivery is not uncommon. This typically resolves spontaneously, but chronic postpartum sacroiliitis may persist and can be quite disabling.

The sacroiliac joint is the lowest joint in the spine, and its anatomical position makes its examination difficult. Moreover, the pain of sacroiliitis mimics that caused by other well-recognized, pain-sensitive components of the lumbar, or lower spinal column, including the posterior facet joints, lumbar discs, and nerve roots. Trauma, degeneration, inflammation or disease in any of these parts of the spine can result in pain in the sacroiliac joint region. As a result, sacroiliitis is frequently misdiagnosed. That’s another reason that anyone seeking medical help for a back problem must carefully check the credentials, training and experience of any specialist with whom they consider working.

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