Sacroiliac Joint Degeneration

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
Filed Under: Sacroiliac Joint
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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4 thoughts on “Sacroiliac Joint Degeneration”

  1. Joy says:

    Thank you very much for this brief, yet very informative article, which had info in it I hadn’t read elsewhere and it was illuminating for my very long-term condition.

  2. Alicia B Coronel says:

    Great, I’ve been reading up on this and this article really was easy to read and understand Just one question it didn’t answer was the difference in injury verse age How long does it take to have notable wear from age on joint as compared to injury. I was just wondering

  3. Lorrie Yost says:

    Thank you for this article, I actually can show this to people that don’t understand my condition and finally understand what I have. I’m 44 years old and had my SI joint disintegrate 7 years ago, and it took 8 months, multiple doctors’ visits, and every kind of specialist, 4 ER visits, 3 hospitals all within 2 completely different states (NJ and finally FL) to find this out. Plus I also found out that I wouldn’t be able to have children due to my condition, since my doctor had to put in 3 titanium screws to hold my pelvic bone to my sacrum carefully because I also have signs of osteoporosis in my right hip. So thank you so much for this article!

  4. Kevin Pease says:

    Very informative. My doctor diagnosed me with sacroiliac joint disfunction. I’m meeting with a pain management doctor hopefully next week. Going to look at all options. I’ve been awful at work with all the pain. I walk around like a 90 yr old and I’m only 48. Very debilitating to say the least. May lose my job and my CDL if I don’t address it sooner than later.

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