Treatment options for sacroiliac joint pain
Several treatment options can be used for SI joint pain, these include:
Rest and/or medications
Physical therapy: this will include stretches specifically for maintaining joint flexibility, and exercises to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the SI joint.
Sacroiliac belt: this is used to stabilize the SI joint externally. The belt wraps around the hips and stabilizes the SI joint by squeezing the hips together.
Injections: a local anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory agent are injected directly into the SI joint. Pain relief, generally, is temporary but may last several months.
Radiofrequency denervation: this damages/deactivates the nerves that transmit sensation from the SI joint.
Minimally-invasive, image-guided fusion of the SI joint
Who needs sacroiliac joint fusion?
The SI joint often responds well to non-invasive therapies (e.g., PT or SI belt). For SI pain that doesn’t respond to these therapies, or for pain that worsens over time, an SI joint injection should be considered.
For those who don’t respond to non-surgical treatment options, surgical options should be considered. In fact, several scientific studies have shown that there is a subset of patients with SI joint dysfunction that are not helped by non-surgical therapies.
What is sacroiliac joint fusion?
In fusion surgery (also called arthrodesis) two bones are fused together to form a single piece of bone tissue. When fusion surgery is done to a joint, the two bones of the joint are fused together and the joint no longer exists. The goal of the procedure is to reduce pain by eliminating the motion of the joint.
Thus, in the case of SI joint fusion, the two bones of the SI joint are fused together to form a single, solid bone. This can reduce pain while there is no loss of motion, since the SI joint does not move.
A bone grafting material is used to stimulate the fusion process. The bone graft will be placed in the space between the two bones of the SI joint. There are a range of bone grafting materials that a surgeon can use.