Chronic pain is a common problem, especially when it involves the back. Fortunately, there are numerous pain management solutions that can help you get relief. However, these treatments aren’t “one-size-fits-all.” Instead, you need an accurate diagnosis to determine which therapy can provide the best outcome.
Vladimir Fiks, MD, specializes in treating pain conditions directly at the source. If you have pain when you sit down, here’s what you need to know about your sacroiliac joints and treatment options at Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon.
Recognizing sacroiliac joint problems
Back pain can be challenging to effectively treat, because it can have numerous causes, including those that stem from the sacroiliac (SI) joints.
Up to 30% of low back pain develops because of sacroiliac joint problems. Unlike other types of back pain, sacroiliac joint issues start where the base of your spine connects to your pelvis. As a result, it can lead to intense discomfort that radiates down into the leg.
You have two sacroiliac joints on each side of your lower spine, and they connect your lower spine to your pelvis. In most cases, people never notice these joints. However, if ligaments or bone in the area become damaged, it can lead to instability in the pelvis or lower back, resulting in pain, especially in the low back, hip, or groin.
Additional signs of sacroiliac joint problems include:
- Pain or difficulty walking, standing, rising, or sitting down
- Intense pain while walking up an incline or stairs
- Stiffness and limited movement in the low back, hips, groin, or legs
- Pain that worsens from long periods of sitting, standing, or certain sleeping positions
You can have these symptoms on one or both sides of the body.
Finding relief for sacroiliac joint pain
Dr. Fiks can diagnose sacroiliac joint pain by performing a physical exam, discussing your symptoms and medical history, and administering diagnostic testing. The testing often involves giving an anesthetic injection into the sacroiliac joint space. If the shot reduces your pain by 50-75%, your sacroiliac joints are likely the source of your problems.
Once Dr. Fiks knows your sacroiliac joints are behind your back pain, he outlines a treatment strategy. In most cases, this involves conservative therapies, such as:
- A brief (1-2 days) rest
- Applying ice or heat
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Manual manipulation
- Braces or pelvic supports
- Spinal injections
- Radiofrequency ablation
Most people with sacroiliac joint pain respond best to a combination of treatments. However, if your symptoms don’t respond to these therapies, Dr. Fiks could recommend SI joint fusion.
When to consider SI joint fusion
If your symptoms don’t respond to conservative treatments after at least 8-12 weeks, Dr. Fiks could suggest SI joint fusion to stabilize the area.
During SI joint fusion, Dr. Fiks makes two tiny incisions in the lower back. Then, he inserts titanium implants or bone grafts in the joint space to create more stability.
SI joint fusion typically takes 45 minutes, and you can walk again within a few hours. Since this procedure is minimally invasive, it comes with few risks of postoperative complications, and you go home the same day. You can usually expect to resume nonstrenuous activities and work in about two weeks.
Is your pain related to your sacroiliac joints? Learn more about your treatment options by calling 971-233-4199 or booking an appointment online with Advanced Pain Management Center today.