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Treatments for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Medications, Physical Therapy, and Surgery to Treat SI Joint Pain

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction can cause low back pain, but fortunately, there are many ways to treat this condition.

But before you try any treatment, first you should stop or avoid any activity that’s causing you pain. The next step to treat SI joint dysfunction involves a combination of rest, medications, and physical therapy.

In-depth Articles on Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Treatments

Drugs and Medications for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
There are many medications you can take to treat SI joint dysfunction. Initially your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter medications to help reduce your pain or inflammation. These medications include:

  • Acetaminophen (eg, Tylenol) helps relieve your pain, but it won’t help reduce your inflammation.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (eg, Advil) help reduce both pain and inflammation in your SI joints.

As always, check with your doctor first before trying any over-the-counter medications.

If over-the-counter medications don’t work for you, your doctor may prescribe a medication such as corticosteroids.

Corticosteroid drugs (eg, cortisone) can be taken orally or as an injection into the SI joint. They work powerfully to reduce your inflammation and they can provide months of relief.

Because there are certain side effects and risks associated with corticosteroids, such as osteoporosis and weight gain, talk to your doctor about whether they’re right for you.

Physical Therapy to Treat Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Your SI joints help support your upper body when you’re standing or sitting, but over time, these activities can cause stress on your SI joints.

Physical therapy can help ease the stresses on your SI joints. Specific movements, such as range-of-motion and stretching exercises, can help to strengthen your SI joints, as well as your abdominal and back muscles. Physical therapy can also help you maintain joint flexibility, which is especially important as you get older.

Work with a physical therapist to design a program specifically for you.

Other Treatments for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

  • Interventional pain management techniques: These techniques, such as radiofrequency ablation (which works to damage or destroy nerve tissue that’s causing your pain) and electrical stimulation (which uses an electrical stimulator to stimulate nerves and muscle tissue surrounding your SI joints), can help relieve SI joint pain.
  • SI joint brace or a sacroiliac belt: These wrap around your hips to hold your SI joints tightly together, which can reduce your pain.
  • Exercise: There are many gentle exercises and stretches you can do on your own to help reduce pain caused by SI joint dysfunction. Back exercises help keep your spine healthy and may even prevent low back pain.
  • Rest: Try to remember to get enough sleep and rest. Getting enough sleep (at least 7 to 8 hours a night) is crucial because it can help your body recover more quickly. Also, making sure you rest your body throughout the day (by sitting or lying down instead of standing) can help relieve SI joint pain.
  • Ice and heat: Alternating ice and heat may help relieve pain and swelling.

Fortunately, most people respond well to a combination of these non-surgical treatments. However, if these treatments don’t work for you, talk to your doctor about whether surgery is an option for you.

Surgery for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Although surgery is rarely used to treat sacroiliac joint dysfunction, there are a few surgical options that can help reduce your SI joint pain.

One example of SI joint dysfunction surgery is SI joint stabilization or joint fusion. It’s uncommon, but you may need this type of surgery to fuse your SI joints if you don’t respond well to other treatments.

Updated on: 12/02/13
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Exercise and Physical Therapy for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Exercise and physical therapy can significantly help you manage sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. Find out how exercise and physical therapy can help you cope with SI joint pain and other SI joint dysfunction symptoms.
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