What are the Different Types of Sacroiliac Injury?

Erin Oxendine

A sacroiliac injury is an injury to the sacroiliac joint in the lower back. The sacroiliac joint works in conjunction with the sacrum, spine, and pelvis. There are different types of sacroiliac injuries all of which can be very painful. Doctors can easily diagnose and treat this condition after finding out what caused the initial injury.

An X-ray of the pelvis, showing the sacroiliac joint.
An X-ray of the pelvis, showing the sacroiliac joint.

The most common type of sacroiliac injury is from trauma to the buttocks and lower back such as from a fall or direct blow. Athletes often get sacroiliac injuries from impacts or repetitive movements while playing contact sports such as football and wrestling. Trauma and stress fractures from vicious jarring in a motor vehicle accident would also cause an injury to the lower sacroiliac area.

The most common sacroiliac injuries are from falls or direct blows.
The most common sacroiliac injuries are from falls or direct blows.

Pregnant women can also develop sacroiliac injuries during childbirth. This happens because during pregnancy, the body’s hormones go into overtime and relax the soft tissue and joints. When the tissue weakens, the joints in the lower back move around more than normal resulting in back pain. Over time, the friction from the loose back and pelvic joints can cause injury to the sacroiliac joint.

Physical therapy is an important step in treating sacroiliitis.
Physical therapy is an important step in treating sacroiliitis.

Sacroiliac injury can also occur if a person has an abnormality in the sacroiliac joint and sacrum. Sometimes the bones and joints that hold the sacrum do not fit together properly and create extra pressure on the sacroiliac joint. Other defects such as having degenerative spinal arthritis or having one leg longer or shorter than the other can also cause sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The person may also have pelvic pain when the leg bones are not the same length.

When a person has a sacroiliac injury, there are certain symptoms he or she may experience. Common signs include sciatica or back pain in the lower part of the back and buttocks, usually on one side. Some people may also have groin pain radiating into the upper thighs. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling in the feet or calves as well as burning in the lower back. In order to determine how extensive the injury is, a person would need to see an orthopedist spine specialist.

The orthopedist would most likely conduct a physical examination and x-rays to determine the extent of the sacroiliac injury. If repetitive movement from sports or work activities caused the injury, the patient may need physical restrictions until the injury has healed. Most physicians treat sacroiliac spinal injuries conservatively with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and warm/hot compresses. Another method of treatment is steroid injections and as a last resort, doctors may recommend surgery.

A pregnant woman may develop a sacroiliac injury during childbirth.
A pregnant woman may develop a sacroiliac injury during childbirth.

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Discussion Comments


They now have a titanium micro surgery for the SI Joint. It's being done at UCLA. I don't know where else.

You want to try to avoid surgery if possible, but if nothing else is helping, it seems surgery is working from time to time. I remember one lady saying after her second surgery she was able to get almost back to normal.

Best of luck to everyone.


Does anyone know what exactly a sacroiliac surgery involves?

My nephew has a problem with both of his sacroilic joints. His joints are dislocated and don't fit with the sacrum as they should. He is constantly going to a physical therapist who literally re-locates his joints. But just a week later, as he moves, the joints are dislocated once again and cause immense sacroiliac pain.

He is only 11 years old and has been dealing with this problem on and off for four years now. His doctors have been taking good care of him but none have mentioned surgery until now. I wonder if surgery could resolve this condition which is clearly not responding to treatment.

Has anyone had sacroiliac surgery for this kind of a problem before? Can you tell me what was done in the surgery?


@simrin-- Oh no! That sounds bad. But I'm glad to hear you're all better now! I've never had SI joint dysfunction, but I did have a sacroiliac strain during both of my pregnancies.

Your symptoms are not too far off from what I had. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pain relievers for my pain. I did go to physical therapy for some time during my first pregnancy but it didn't help very much. During my second pregnancy, I went to a chiropractor for spinal adjustment and got much better results. My pain was greatly reduced after those sessions. I also wore a pregnancy belt all the time to take some of the weight off my sacroiliac joints.

The sacroiliac strain was the only bad part about my pregnancies. Thankfully, it didn't cause any issues during labor. And since I'm not planning on having a third child, I'm hoping to never have this injury again.

I injured my right sacroiliac joint after falling off a horse at my granparents' farm two years ago. I didn't break anything, but the injury resulted in dysfunction of my joint. I had horrible pain on my right hip that extended down into my leg and all the way down to my foot. I couldn't walk, sit or stand for very long. It was like a nightmare.

My doctor had to give me a really strong pain reliever and sacroiliac joint injection with anti-inflammatory properties. After a month of taking those and resting, I started going to physical therapy. It took a long time for me to be able to move around without pain. I still can't do demanding sports and can only swim or walk for exercise. But I'm doing a lot better and have not had any pain for close to a year.

Before my accident, I didn't even know what sacroiliac joints were. This experience has definitely taught me how vital and vulnerable they are and that we need to take good care of them.

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