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Sacroiliac Joint Pain and Its Treatment

Rashbaum, Ralph F. MD; Ohnmeiss, Donna D. Dr.Med.; Lindley, Emily M. PhD; Kitchel, Scott H. MD; Patel, Vikas V. MD

doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000000359

The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) as a source of symptoms has been controversial; however, as knowledge about the joint increased, its role as a pain generator in patients complaining of symptoms that are often attributed to spinal pathology has become better appreciated. The literature reports that the SIJ is the pain origin in as many as 30% of patients presenting with low back pain. Clinically, the SIJ can be challenging to evaluate; however, assessing pain location, patient posture/movement, and provocative manual testing are useful in making the presumptive diagnosis of SIJ disruption. The most definitive evaluation is image-guided injection of anesthetic solutions into the joint which is diagnostic if there is at least 75% symptom relief acutely. Treatment begins with nonoperative intervention including physical therapy and/or chiropractic care. If these fail, the next option is generally radiofrequency denervation (rhizotomy) of the joint. If this does not provide adequate relief, surgical intervention, in the form of minimally invasive SIJ fusion may be considered. The literature increasingly supports favorable results of SIJ fusion in appropriately selected patients. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the current literature on the SIJ, with focus on its surgical treatment.

*Texas Back Institute

Texas Back Institute Research Foundation, Plano, TX

Department of Orthopedics, The Spine Center, University of Colorado, Denver, CO

§Orthopedic Spine Associates, Eugene, OR

Rashbaum, Kitchel, and Patel are consultants to SI-BONE. The remaining authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Ralph F. Rashbaum, MD, Texas Back Institute, 6020 W. Parker Road. #200, Plano, TX 75093 (e-mail:

Received August 18, 2015

Accepted November 25, 2015

© 2016 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.