The function of the Sacroiliac joint is to distribute the weight of the torso through the pelvis, legs and back. It also absorbs the impact of walking, running and jumping, and prevents this movement from jarring the spine. The joint is composed of the sacrum, a triangular shaped bone that sits near the bottom of the spine. The sacrum is held to the right and left ilium bones in the pelvis via strong, fibrous ligaments.
The Sacroiliac joint is subject to many forms of degeneration but because the joint is hard to palpate and does not move easily, it is often hard to discover that the joint is deteriorating. Couple this with how common lower back complaints are and the number of things that cause such pain, pinpointing Sacroiliac degeneration is even more difficult. However, there are some known causes of degeneration in the Sacroiliac joint and some of the symptoms are unique to Sacroiliac degeneration.
Some symptoms of Sacroiliac joint degeneration may include:
- Pain in the lower back, hips and pelvis.
- Pain that radiates down into the legs. Sometimes this will feel like a tingling pain and will restrict itself to one leg.
- Aching in the lower back after remaining in a seated position too long.
- Difficulty standing from a seated position and difficulty turning over when in bed.
There are several major causes of Sacroiliac joint degeneration:
- The most common cause of Sacroiliac joint degeneration is injury, most often from a fall or an automobile accident, which strains the ligaments around the joint. When ligaments are strained, it permits too much movement in the joint. This movement causes wear on the joint, which can lead not only to pain and swelling, buy also to degenerative arthritis, which occurs when friction degrades the cartilage between the bones. This cartilage reduces friction between the bones, and without it, the friction can lead to osteoarthritis.
- Sacroiliac joint degeneration can also be caused by an abnormally shaped sacrum. The sacrum is actually several vertebrae fused together, but in some people, these bones never properly fuse. This lack of fusing causes extra movement in the joint, increasing the chances of degeneration.
- Women who have given birth can experience degeneration to the Sacroiliac joint. During delivery, the body releases hormones that cause connective tissues to relax so that the pelvis can stretch to accommodate the baby in the birth canal. This can strain the ligaments that connect the Sacroiliac joint and permits movement in the joint. Over time, the extra movement can cause wear and tear in the joint, leading to arthritis.
- Unusual walking patterns or even small discrepancies between leg lengths can lead to Sacroiliac degeneration. Even poor posture or shifting body weight often from one leg to the other can cause Sacroiliac degeneration.
- Diseases like Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of arthritis, affect the Sacroiliac joint. This disease causes inflammation in the joints that make up the spine and the pelvis and eventually causes these bones to fuse together