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      A Review and Algorithm in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Sacroiliac Joint Pain

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) has been estimated to contribute to pain in as much as 38% of cases of lower back pain. There are no clear diagnostic or treatment pathways. This article seeks to establish a clearer pathway and algorithm for treating patients.

          Methods

          The literature was reviewed in order to review the biomechanics, as well as establish the various diagnostic and treatment options. Diagnostic factors addressed include etiology, history, physical exam, and imaging studies. Treatment options reviewed include conservative measures, as well as interventional and surgical options.

          Results

          Proposed criteria for diagnosis of sacroiliac joint dysfunction can include pain in the area of the sacroiliac joint, reproducible pain with provocative maneuvers, and pain relief with a local anesthetic injection into the SIJ. Conventional non-surgical therapies such as medications, physical therapy, radiofrequency denervation, and direct SI joint injections may have some limited durability in therapeutic benefit. Surgical fixation can be by a lateral or posterior/posterior oblique approach with the literature supporting minimally invasive options for improving pain and function and maintaining a low adverse event profile.

          Conclusion

          SIJ pain is felt to be an underdiagnosed and undertreated element of LBP. There is an emerging disconnect between the growing incidence of diagnosed SI pathology and underwhelming treatment efficacy of medical treatment. This has led to an increase in SI joint fixation. We have created a clearer diagnostic and treatment pathway to establish an algorithm for patients that can include conservative measures and interventional techniques once the diagnosis is identified.

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          Most cited references 80

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          Systemic Pharmacologic Therapies for Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review for an American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline.

          A 2007 American College of Physicians guideline addressed pharmacologic options for low back pain. New evidence and medications have now become available.
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            Results of sacroiliac joint double block and value of sacroiliac pain provocation tests in 54 patients with low back pain.

            This prospective study consisted of the evaluation of a double sacroiliac block in patients with low back pain. To determine the prevalence of sacroiliac pain in a selected population of patients suffering from low back pain, and to assess certain pain provocation tests. Previous studies have implicated the sacroliac joint as a potential etiology of back and leg pain, but none has tested double anesthetic blocks in a prospective fashion. Fifty-four patients with unilateral low back pain, pain mapping compatible with a sacroiliac origin, tenderness over the sacroiliac joint, and no obvious source of pain in the lumbar spine were selected for a double anesthetic block. The procedure consisted of a through clinical examination with a visual analog scale, testing of sacroiliac pain provocation tests followed by a first screening block with a short-acting anesthetic. A second examination consisting of the same tests assessed the efficacy of the first block. If results were positive, a confirmatory block was performed. All blocks were performed under fluoroscopic guidance. Nineteen patients had a positive response to the first block. Among them, 10 (18.5%) were temporarily relieved by the confirmatory block. No pain provocation test reached statistical significance. The present study suggests the sacroiliac joint is an uncommon but real source of low back pain. The accuracy of some of the presumed "sacroiliac pain provocations tests" is questioned.
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              The relation between the transversus abdominis muscles, sacroiliac joint mechanics, and low back pain.

              Two abdominal muscle patterns were tested in the same group of individuals, and their effects were compared in relation to sacroiliac joint laxity. One pattern was contraction of the transversus abdominis, independently of the other abdominals; the other was a bracing action that used all the lateral abdominal muscles. To demonstrate the biomechanical effect of the exercise for the transversus abdominis known to be effective in low back pain. Drawing in the abdominal wall is a specific exercise for the transversus abdominis muscle (in cocontraction with the multifidus), which is used in the treatment of back pain. Clinical effectiveness has been demonstrated to be a reduction of 3-year recurrence from 75% to 35%. To the authors' best knowledge, there is not yet in vivo proof of the biomechanical effect of this specific exercise. This study of a biomechanical model on the mechanics of the sacroiliac joint, however, predicted a significant effect of transversus abdominis muscle force. Thirteen healthy individuals who could perform the test patterns were included. Sacroiliac joint laxity values were recorded with study participants in the prone position during the two abdominal muscle patterns. The values were recorded by means of Doppler imaging of vibrations. Simultaneous electromyographic recordings and ultrasound imaging were used to verify the two muscle patterns. The range of sacroiliac joint laxity values observed in this study was comparable with levels found in earlier studies of healthy individuals. These values decreased significantly in all individuals during both muscle patterns (P < 0.001). The independent transversus abdominis contraction decreased sacroiliac joint laxity (or rather increased sacroiliac joint stiffness) to a significantly greater degree than the general abdominal exercise pattern (P < 0.0260). Contraction of the transversus abdominis significantly decreases the laxity of the sacroiliac joint. This decrease in laxity is larger than that caused by a bracing action using all the lateral abdominal muscles. These findings are in line with the authors' biomechanical model predictions and support the use of independent transversus abdominis contractions for the treatment of low back pain.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                jpr
                jpainres
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove
                1178-7090
                08 December 2020
                2020
                : 13
                : 3337-3348
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Neurosurgical Associates of Lancaster , Lancaster, PA 17601, USA
                [2 ]University of Kansas , Kansas City, KS, USA
                [3 ]Evolve Restorative Center , Santa Rosa, CA, USA
                [4 ]Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists , Reno, NV, USA
                [5 ]Center for Interventional Pain and Spine , Lancaster, PA, USA
                [6 ]Kansas Pain Management , Overland Park, KS, USA
                [7 ]Pain Specialists of America , Austin, TX, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Steven Falowski Neurosurgical Associates of Lancaster , 160 N Pointe Blvd #200, Lancaster, PA17601, USATel +1 717-358-0800 Email sfalowski@gmail.com
                Article
                279390
                10.2147/JPR.S279390
                7737553
                © 2020 Falowski et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 1, References: 83, Pages: 12
                Funding
                Funded by: no funding;
                There were no funding sources for this article.
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