The sacroiliac joint, which is a small, flexible joint located within the pelvis, is a typical source of pain and inflammation. There are a number of potential causes of sacroiliac joint pain, and treatment options vary depending on the exact cause, but common treatment options are available for sacroiliac joint pain.
A number of pain medications can be used to manage and treat sacroiliac joint pain. These medications, which range from over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Tylenol and Advil to more powerful prescription-based medications such as Vicodin and Oxycontin, can significantly reduce sacroiliac joint pain and are often times used prior to more invasive procedures.
Physical therapy is often used to help improve flexibility and range of motion of the sacroiliac joint, which can help to reduce pain and irritation of the joint. Many times stiffness within the sacroiliac joint can result in abnormal biomechanics of the entire pelvis area, which can abnormally affect walking gait and cause pain. Various physical therapy modalities, including stretching, range of motion exercises, and traction, can help improve flexibility of the sacroiliac joint, which can translate into reduced sacroiliac joint pain as well as improved functioning of the entire pelvic area.
To treat severe cases of sacroiliac joint pain, joint injections are often used. These injections, which involve injecting a corticosteroid agent, usually cortisone, directly into the sacroiliac joint, typically provide significant, and often times permanent, pain relief. Normally, a sacroiliac joint corticosteroid injection is performed using a special x-ray machine called a fluoroscope. The fluoroscope machine enables the attending physician or radiologist to accurately inject the medication into the appropriate location within the sacroiliac joint.
Similar to corticosteroid joint injections, nerve blocks are often used to treat sacroiliac joint pain. In cases where a corticosteroid injection has failed to produce any measurable pain relief, a nerve block injection, which involves injecting a powerful deadening agent such as lidocaine onto the main nerves that transmit pain impulses from the sacroiliac joint, is used to reduce or eliminate pain. Nerve blocks have the potential to provide substantial and long-lasting pain relief.
Sacroiliac joint pain that fails to respond adequately to less-invasive types of treatment can be treated surgically. Surgery typically involves fusing the sacroiliac joint to the main pelvic girdle, which makes the joint rigid and inflexible. By eliminating movement and flexion within the joint, pain and irritation is often reduced and in many cases eliminated altogether. Arthroscopic surgery, which involves using a small camera to guide surgical instruments into the joint, can be used in certain cases to correct any bony abnormalities that cause pain within the sacroiliac joint .