Sacroiliac Fusion Surgery

The sacro-iliac [SI} joint is to blame in 15 to 30 percent of people with chronic lower back pain.

You may experience sacroiliac joint pain as a sharp, stabbing pain that radiates from your hips and pelvis, up to the lower back, and down to the thighs. Sometimes it may feel numb or tingly, or as if your legs are about to buckle.

Symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction include pain in the lower back, groin, thighs and back of the hips. Other factors contributing to pain and discomfort include inflammation and arthritis in the sacroiliac joint that may result in stiffness or a burning feeling in the pelvis.

Sacroiliac inflammation and pain may occur due to pregnancy, arthritis, wearing away of the cartilage layer covering bones, discrepancy in leg lengths, or injuries. Curtailing activity that aggravates pain provides some relief. Non-prescription pain relievers that may help include acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen, but you should take care not to exceed recommended doses. Injections directly into the joint sometimes provide long-term relief.. Sacroiliac belts brace the hips during activity to help stabilize the joints.

Physical therapists are able to help patients with stabilizing and stretching exercises to alleviate pain. Other therapies that help stabilize sacroiliac joints are Pilates and yoga. With surgery, doctors take away the cartilage around sacroiliac joints and bind the bones with screws and plates so they fuse together. Because this eliminates joint motion, it usually alleviates the inflammation and pain. Although we cannot always prevent sacroiliac joint inflammation and pain, as it is a normal part of aging, overall fitness and healthy body weight reduce its impact.

Surgery is the considered effective, but the last resort. With sacroiliac joint fusion surgery, small screws hold the bones in the SI joint together so the bones fuse, or grow together. Dr. Rao may suggest this surgery if the pain is chronic and the combination of physical therapy, medications, or minimally invasive interventions hasn’t been effective.

SI joint pain can be short-term, or chronic. But in most cases, pain can be relieved significantly with treatment.