What is sacroiliac joint dysfunction?


Quick Answer

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is a condition that causes pain in the base of the spine, hips and groin, reports MedicineNet. Unlike the rest of the spine, the five vertebrae that make up the sacrum are fused. The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum to the iliac bones of the pelvis.

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Full Answer

The sacroiliac joints support the weight of the upper body when upright, which places large amounts of stress on them, according to MedicineNet. The cartilage layer that cushions the joints allows for minimal movement, which is normally less than 4 millimeters of rotation and 2 millimeters of translation. Osteoarthritis occurs when this cartilage is damaged or breaks down. Other arthritis-related causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction include gout, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Conditions that alter the normal walking motion can also cause dysfunction. These include pregnancy, a discrepancy in leg lengths and pain in the hip, knee or foot.

A physical examination involving the placement of the hips and legs in a specific position and applying pressure to the sacrum can isolate it as the source of pain. Other tests for the diagnosis of sacroiliac joint dysfunction include X-rays, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and bone scans, explains MedicineNet. Pain relief provided by the injection of anesthetic and steroid medications into the sacroiliac joint confirms the diagnosis. This type of injection, in addition to physical therapy, is the typical treatment. Surgical fusion of the sacral vertebrae is performed if other treatment options fail.

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