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Sacroiliitis

Overview

Sacroiliitis (say-kroe-il-e-I-tis) is an inflammation of one or both of your sacroiliac joints situated where your lower spine and pelvis connect. Sacroiliitis can cause pain in your buttocks or lower back, and can extend down one or both legs. Prolonged standing or stair climbing can worsen the pain.

Sacroiliitis can be difficult to diagnose, because it can be mistaken for other causes of low back pain. It's been linked to a group of diseases that cause inflammatory arthritis of the spine. Treatment might involve physical therapy and medications.

Sacroiliac joints

Sacroiliac joints
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Symptoms

The pain associated with sacroiliitis most commonly occurs in the buttocks and lower back. It can also affect the legs, groin and even the feet. Sacroiliitis pain can be aggravated by:

  • Prolonged standing
  • Bearing more weight on one leg than the other
  • Stair climbing
  • Running
  • Taking large strides

Causes

Causes for sacroiliac joint dysfunction include:

  • Traumatic injury. Asudden impact, such as a motor vehicle accident or a fall, can damage your sacroiliac joints.
  • Arthritis. Wear-and-tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) can occur in sacroiliac joints, as can ankylosing spondylitis a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine.
  • Pregnancy. The sacroiliac joints must loosen and stretch to accommodate childbirth. The added weight and altered gait during pregnancy can cause additional stress on these joints and can lead to abnormal wear.
  • Infection. In rare cases, the sacroiliac joint can become infected.

Complications

As with other conditions that cause chronic pain, sacroiliitis can result in depression and insomnia.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Home treatments for sacroiliitis pain include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers. Drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help relieve pain associated with sacroiliitis. Some of these drugs can cause stomach upset, or kidney or liver problems; the Food and Drug Administration recently strengthened its warning about an increased risk of heart attack and stroke with use of nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. Read labels and take only as directed.
  • Rest. Modifying or avoiding the activities that worsen your pain might help reduce the inflammation in your sacroiliac joints. Proper posture is important.
  • Ice and heat. Alternating ice and heat might help relieve sacroiliac pain
Updated: 12/18/2015

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