Florida Spine & Pain Management Institute

How the Sacroiliac Joint Procedure Can Treat Chronic Sciatica Pain

Sacroiliac Joint Procedure

How the Sacroiliac Joint Procedure Can Treat Chronic Sciatica Pain

Sciatica is the name used to describe the sense of pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness in the lower extremities, often caused by compression or irritation of the spinal nerve(s) or the sciatic nerve. However, the sacroiliac joint, often known as the SI joint, can cause pain in the lower back and leg. 

It is estimated that 15-30 percent of cases of lower back discomfort are associated with the SI joint. Although SI joint-induced sciatic pain can be treated with painkillers, physiotherapy, chiropractic care, injections, and support; these strategies may not be effective long-term solutions for chronic pain.

The innovative Sacroiliac Joint Procedure is a minimally invasive surgical solution that can provide the pain relief you need by removing the source of your pain instead of just masking it.

Drs. Javier Placer and Ruben Rivera of the Florida Spine and Pain Institute are Board-Certified Interventional Pain Management physiatrists trained to perform this highly specialized technique. If you suffer from chronic sciatic pain and are interested in learning more about the Sacroiliac Joint procedure, continue reading.

Getting Rid of Sciatica Pain

Let’s take a closer look at how SI joint dysfunction contributes to sciatic pain before discussing how the Sacroiliac Joint Procedure can provide a long-term pain relief solution.

What is SI Joint Dysfunction?

SI joint dysfunction is typically caused by SI joint trauma or degeneration. The SI joint connects the iliac bone (pelvis) to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine above the tailbone).

The SI joint transfers weight from the upper body to the pelvis and legs. Pain produced by SI joint dysfunction may be felt in the lower back or spine, buttocks, pelvis, groin, and sometimes in the legs.

The L5 and S1 nerves are located close to the SI joint. Research has shown that SI joint dysfunction can produce pain and other symptoms throughout the nerves’ distribution. While the SI joint is separate from the sciatic or spinal nerve(s), it can induce sciatic-like sensations.

SI Joint dysfunction symptoms include:

  • Dull, aching lower back pain that varies from moderate to severe.
  • Lower back pain that’s just felt on one side (sometimes felt on both sides).
  • Pain that spreads to the buttocks, groin, or hips.
  • Sciatic-like pain in the buttocks or back of the thighs that feels hot, sharp, and stabbing and may include numbness and tingling. 
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion in the lower back, hips, pelvis, and groin that may impede actions such as climbing stairs or bending at the waist.
  • Increased discomfort while applying more strain on the SI joint (for example, when running, jogging, laying down, or bearing weight on one side)
  • Instability in the pelvic region or lower back, which can cause the pelvis to feel as though it will buckle or collapse while standing, walking, or transitioning from standing to sitting.

Factors Contributing to SI Joint Dysfunction

Several factors can increase the risk of developing SI joint dysfunction:

Gait issues

Problems such as leg length discrepancy or scoliosis may exert unequal pressure on one side of the pelvis. This can result in wear and tear on the SI joint and an increased risk of pain.

Weight gain and hormonal changes 

Pelvic changes related to pregnancy are significant triggers of SI joint pain in women. Weight gain and hormonal changes can cause ligaments in the SI joint to loosen (hypermobility). Some women may experience continued SI joint pain and instability because of loose ligaments after delivery.

Previous lumbar spine surgery 

According to one study, sacroiliac joint pain is more common after fusion surgery than discectomy. The same research discovered that multilevel surgery was more likely than single-level surgery to produce SI joint discomfort. SI joint discomfort has also been recorded after hip joint replacement surgery and iliac bone grafts (the “wings” of the pelvis).

Repetitive joint-stressing activities

Contact sports, regular heavy lifting, labor-intensive work, and extended sitting or standing stress can lead to SI joint pain if the pelvic or low back muscles are unconditioned.

The Sacroiliac Joint Procedure

The Sacroiliac Joint Procedure offers patients with SI joint dysfunction a minimally invasive treatment option for chronic pain. This is accomplished by implanting an allograft into the SI joint. With its large graft window, the Sacroiliac Joint Procedure helps provide an optimal environment for long-term fusion, allowing patients to regain joint stability immediately.

The procedure is performed via a single, small incision (approximately one to two inches long) in the lower back. Patients can leave the surgical center the same day, shortly after surgery, and resume normal daily activities within a few weeks.

The sacroiliac joint procedure is conducted under general anesthesia or MAC (monitored anesthesia care) in an operating room. The process is often performed in less than one hour and has a substantially shorter recovery period than conventional SI fusion operations. 

Your surgeon will organize a follow-up appointment to evaluate your progress and health (including the state of your incision) and may take further x-rays of your surgery site as needed. The timing of your return to work and other activities depends on your postoperative recovery and occupation.

Sacroiliac Joint Procedure Available in Davenport, Clermont and Orlando, FL

Should you have further questions about the Sacroiliac Joint Procedure, get in touch with the Florida Spine and Pain Institute team.

Specializing in pain management and sports medicine, Drs Javier Placer and Ruben Rivera are expertly trained to treat chronic and acute pain conditions. Why endure a life of pain? Schedule an online appointment with us today and get back to living the life you want.

For more information watch the following videos

  • SI Stabilization with minimum invasion procedure: Watch Now
  • Dr. Placer Webinar on SI Fusion (English): Watch Now
  • Dr. Placer Webinar on SI Fusion (Spanish): Watch Now

Written by Abraham