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Could Your Back Pain Stem from SI Joint Dysfunction?

Could Your Back Pain Stem from SI Joint Dysfunction?

Throwing your back out, sciatica, arthritis — these are all common drivers of lower back pain, which affects up to 74 million Americans at any given time. We’re going to add sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction to the long list, which isn’t well known, even though experts estimate that it’s responsible for 15% to 30% of all cases of lower back pain.

As specialists in spine health, the team at Texas Spine Consultants, which includes Dr. Michael Hennessy, Dr. Chester Donnally, Dr. Heidi Lee, Dr. Andrew Park, and Dr. Robert Viere, is well versed in the many ways in which you can develop lower back pain.

If you haven’t heard of SI joint dysfunction, this is a valuable read because the condition can mimic other lower back issues, which is why it’s not well-known and often misdiagnosed. We want to change that.

The role your sacroiliac joints play 

At the bottom of your spine is a triangular-shaped bone called your sacrum, which is located beneath your lumbar spine and above your tailbone, or coccyx.

This piece of bone connects your spine to the iliac crests in your hips via two joints called your sacroiliac joints. Ligaments and muscles in the pelvis area support the joints.

Your SI joints are largely responsible for shock absorption between your upper body and lower body, and they also help with bending over. In other words, they act as connectors between your upper and lower body, which is no small task.

Your SI joints are also mostly stable and don’t allow all that much movement within the joint.

Behind SI joint dysfunction

There are two ways in which your SI joints can malfunction — they become too tight or get too loose — and both can lead to lower back pain, among other symptoms.

SI joint dysfunction, where there’s too much movement or hypermobility, often occurs in pregnant women as the ligaments in the pelvis loosen to accommodate a growing child. In fact, women, in general, are more susceptible to SI joint hypermobility thanks to hormonal fluctuations.

On the other side of the SI joint dysfunction equation are joints that are too stiff, thanks to inflammation caused by wear and tear. For example, runners or people who lift a lot are more at risk for SI joint stiffness.

SI joint dysfunction can also be one-sided due to gait issues that place uneven pressure on the joints.

Signs of SI joint dysfunction

Whether there's too much movement or too little in your SI joints, you can experience:

One symptom unique to hypermobility is feeling like the joint is unstable and your pelvis will just give out on one side. This can occur when you transition from sitting to standing or when you’re walking.

As you can see, SI joint dysfunction symptoms mimic other issues, like herniated discs or hip arthritis, so getting the right diagnosis is important. Our team ensures that we correctly identify the issue in your back to ensure that we set you on the right treatment path.

To determine whether your lower back pain is Si joint-related, please contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to schedule a consultation. 

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