More and more doctors are being educated to look at the SI joint as a potential source of low back pain. But it hasn't always been that way. The history of medical education shows us why.
History of Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction
Sacroiliac (SI) joint disorders and the associated symptoms have been well known for over a century. In fact, in the early 1900s, symptoms that seemed to arise from the back were frequently attributed to the sacroiliac (SI) joint, and open surgical procedures were used to treat the joint.
In 1934, a paper was published on the spinal disc as a source of pain in the back.25 As a result, disc treatment became the most common operation for orthopedic surgeons, and the sacroiliac (SI) joint was all but forgotten.
SI Joint Pain Misdiagnosed as Lumbar Pain
Although nowdays, orthopedic and neurologic spine surgeons recognize that the disc is not the only source of low back pain, most of the treatment focus in the spine is still centered on the disc. Orthopedic and neurosurgical residents are rarely taught to consider SI joint disruption and degenerative sacroiliitis as the cause of a patient’s low back problems.
In addition, few, if any, lumbar MRIs extend below S1 to examine the SI joint.
According to scientific data, it's common for pain from the SI joint to feel like discogenic or low back pain. To avoid unnecessary lumbar spine surgery, SI joint disorders should be considered in low back pain diagnosis.26
How Can My Doctor Tell Whether I Have SI Joint Dysfunction?
To determine whether your SI joint is to blame for the lower back, upper buttock, or leg pain you've been experiencing, a trained doctor will consider your health history, symptoms, results from SI joint pain diagnostic exams, and potentially other medical tests.