Sacroiliitis Specialists in New Jersey
Located where the lower spine and pelvis connect, sacroiliac joints are essential for absorbing shock and pressure for the body and legs. A condition called sacroiliitis occurs when the sacroiliac joints become inflamed, causing painful and uncomfortable symptoms during physical activity. The team of highly skilled medical professionals at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics utilizes award-winning and comprehensive care methods to help patients with sacroiliitis find relief. Learn more about this condition and the treatments available through Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics.
Symptoms of Sacroiliitis
Affecting the sacroiliac joints, sacroiliitis is a common form of arthritis. Patients suffering from sacroiliitis will often experience symptoms in the lumbar and pelvic regions especially when sitting down. Often sacroiliitis is misdiagnosed as degenerative disc disease or spondylosis but a thorough physical examination by a CNSO spine surgeon, neurosurgeon, or pain management doctor will clarify.
Most patients diagnosed with sacroiliitis experience stabbing lower back pain. Depending on the location of the affected area, pain can impact either the left or right side of the back. However, some individuals may experience discomfort on both sides of their back. Symptoms of sacroiliitis tend to worsen when making movements such as:
- Getting up from a chair
- Climbing stairs
- Prolonged standing
- Putting more weight on one leg than the other
Additionally, sacroiliitis symptoms can cause pain that radiates to other areas of the body. For example, patients may feel discomfort in areas such as the gluteus musculature or hamstrings. If a patient is experiencing symptoms of sacroiliitis, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. While sacroiliitis is not life-threatening, it can still drastically affect the quality of life. Prolonged untreated sacroiliitis can lead to feelings of depression and insomnia for those with debilitating symptoms.
Sacroiliitis pain can flare up from daily activities including climbing stairs, running, taking large strides, or imbalanced weight on legs.
Sacroiliitis can develop for a variety of reasons. For some patients, it arises in conjunction with additional conditions, including:
- Traumatic injury: Sacroiliac joints can alter or become damaged through traumatic injuries. This could include events such as motor vehicle accidents or falls. Once the sacroiliac joints are affected by an impact, sacroiliitis can develop.
- Arthritis: As with most joints in the body, sacroiliac joints are susceptible to arthritic changes involving their deterioration as an individual grows older.
- Pregnancy: Throughout pregnancy, many changes can occur in the body. This includes the sacroiliac joints, which can shift over time to accommodate the growth of the fetus and delivery. Carrying the weight of a child puts added stress on sacroiliac joints. This can lead to inflammation and abnormal formation of the joint associated with sacroiliitis.
- Infections in the sacroiliac joint: Although this is a rare condition, infections can develop in the sacroiliac joints. When this occurs, there is inflammation of the joint(s) causing the affected person to experience the symptoms associated with sacroiliitis.
To diagnose sacroiliitis, doctors will first evaluate symptoms and medical history. If a patient recently experienced a traumatic injury, pregnancy, or other causes, this can indicate the presence of sacroiliitis. Throughout the exam, physicians will also press on the hips and buttocks to determine the pain location. To finish the physical evaluation, the doctor will move the legs into varying positions. This is to see which areas of the hip, SI joint, or lower back are causing the most pain for the patient.
Cases of sacroiliitis can be hard to determine. In most cases, the cause may remain unknown, but the treatment remains the same. What is most critical is to confirm source of the patient’s pain generator in order to confirm the proper diagnosis. Sacroiliitis is often underdiagnosed because its symptoms are very similar to diagnoses which originate from the lumbar spine such as spondylosis, or stenosis, as they each can manifest with radiculopathy throughout in the same area of nerve distribution. To confirm if a patient has sacroiliitis, hip disease, or lumbar spine disease if not obvious on physical examination, physicians will schedule an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This will allow them to analyze detailed images of the hip, SI joint, and lumbar spine to determine whether sacroiliitis, hip disease, or lumbar spine disease is the prevailing cause of pain. If the SI joint remains most likely or in order to rule out the SI joint as the pain generator, a CNSO pain management physician may use an anesthetic injection to confirm the diagnose sacroiliitis. This is a minimally invasive procedure, performed in the office, of injecting local anesthetic into the sacroiliac (SI) joint under ultrasound guidance. If the injection alleviates the patient’s pain by 50% or more, then it’s likely the patient is experiencing sacroiliitis of the sacroiliac joint.
Sacroiliitis Treatment Options
After receiving a sacroiliitis diagnosis, treatment will relieve the patient’s symptoms. The team of doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics will collaborate with patients to create a treatment plan that works for their lifestyle. Doctors will treat sacroiliitis using non-surgical methods such as physical therapy. Exercising and stretching the joints allow patients to maintain flexibility and strength. In addition, steroid injections will reduce inflammation and pain associated with sacroiliitis. Patients can receive a steroid injection for treatment only when the pain returns and if physical therapy does not first resolve the flare up.
Doctors may recommend taking over-the-counter medications for short-term pain relief. Alongside physical therapy efforts, doctors will prescribe medications such as pain relievers and muscle relaxants. They will reduce painful sacroiliitis symptoms, making it easier for patients to tolerate the healing process on a day-to-day basis until the inflammation has subsided. It can also be helpful for patients to ensure they’re receiving enough rest and applying ice and heat to the affected area.
If a case of sacroiliitis appears severe and unrelenting despite all conservative treatment, neurosurgeons can perform a joint fusion surgery as a cure. While this is not a first line of treatment, it can alleviate symptoms if other efforts are not successful. During this procedure, the surgeon will fuse the sacrum and the ilium to prevent further joint pain.
Learn More about Sacroiliitis at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics
Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics has the knowledge, tools, and resources to diagnose and treat sacroiliitis along with any other neurological, spinal, or musculoskeletal conditions. With a team of board-certified neurosurgeons, spine surgeons, physical therapists, pain management doctors and rehabilitation specialists, CNSO aims to provide patients in the Northern NJ comprehensive medical care they can trust. The medical team will work collaboratively with all parties involved to ensure each patient receives the best quality of care. To learn more about the diagnosis of sacroiliitis and its treatment, schedule an appointment today at one of the six convenient CNSO locations in New Jersey.