Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Causes

Written by David W. Polly, Jr., MD

Many different types of spine conditions can cause sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, which can make it difficult to determine the exact source of SI joint pain. In this article several common causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction are explained.

Spinal arthritis: Spondylosis (also called spinal osteoarthritis) can cause SI joint dysfunction. Although it’s more common in older adults (spondylosis is a degenerative process), younger people can get it, too. As with other joints in your body, over time, the cartilage around the SI joints can wear and tear, and your bones can start to rub together (which can cause pain).

Other types of arthritis: Several other types of arthritis (other than degenerative arthritis—the “wear and tear” arthritis) can cause SI joint pain and lead to stiffness in the low back, including:

Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormones are released in a woman’s body, and those allow the ligaments of the SI joint to relax and become more flexible. These hormones cause the SI joints to stretch and become loose, preparing the body for childbirth.

Because of the flexibility of the SI joints in pregnancy, some pregnant women experience low back pain or pelvic pain. Weight gain and changes in walking during pregnancy can also put added stress on the SI joints.

Other conditions that affect your normal walking pattern: For example, if one leg is longer than the other, this can put increased stress on the SI joints.

Trauma to the SI joints: Trauma, such as a car accident or a bad fall, could potentially injure your SI joints.

Infection in the SI joints: Although it’s incredibly rare, the sacroiliac joint can become infected, leading to SI joint pain.

SI joint dysfunction can sometimes be confused with other spine conditions that can affect the low back, such as a herniated disc, so pay attention to your symptoms closely.

If you have questions about the causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor. Your doctor can be a great resource as to what’s causing your SI joint pain.

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