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Causes and Risk Factors

Some risk factors for developing SI joint dysfunction include having a job or lifestyle that involves heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, or high-impact activities. Other factors that may contribute to SI joint dysfunction include:

  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormones are released that can cause the ligaments in the body to relax. This may lead to increased mobility and potential strain on the SI joints.
  • Injury or Trauma: A fall or other injury that impacts the SI joint can cause damage and lead to pain and dysfunction.
  • Degenerative Joint Disease: Over time, the cartilage in the SI joints can wear down, causing pain and inflammation.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: This inflammatory arthritis can affect the SI joints, leading to stiffness and pain.
  • Overuse Injuries: Repetitive movements or activities that strain the SI joint over time can contribute to dysfunction.


Common symptoms of SI joint dysfunction are:

  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or pelvis
  • Pain that radiates down the legs
  • Stiffness or a burning sensation in the pelvis
  • Increased pain with standing, climbing stairs, or prolonged sitting
  • Instability or a feeling of the pelvis ‘giving way’
  • Difficulty with daily activities such as walking, bending, or lifting
  • Disturbed sleep patterns

Diagnosing SI Joint Dysfunction

At Excel Health, diagnosing SI joint dysfunction involves a comprehensive approach. The process starts with a detailed patient history and a physical examination, focusing on the lower back and pelvis. Our specialists may perform specific maneuvers to stress the SI joints and reproduce the pain. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans, are often used to rule out other causes of pain and to assess the SI joints directly. In most cases, diagnostic injections into the SI joint may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Conservative Care

Initial treatment for SI joint dysfunction is non-surgical and may include:

  • Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and improve joint stability
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain and inflammation
  • SI joint belts to stabilize the area
  • SI joint injections
  • Modifications in daily activities to reduce strain on the SI joints
  • Ice or heat therapy to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Chiropractic care to improve joint function and mobility

Surgical Treatment

Surgical intervention for SI joint dysfunction is considered when conservative treatments are ineffective. Surgery typically involves fusion of the SI joint to minimize movement and alleviate pain. The decision for surgery is based on a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, overall health, and response to previous treatments.

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