In men, the SI joint rarely is the cause of LBP in my experience. In women of course, with a wider pelvis, and the hormone Relaxin softening the ligaments during the first and third trimester, we often see SIJ related pain especially post partum.
I recently saw a 60 year old male patient who had a three month history of pain that was so severe he was unable to tie his shoes or put on his socks. The pain was primarily in his right butt cheek and also in his upper thigh. His physician had ruled out his lumbar spine as the source of his pain. He eventually came to see me when he concluded that he was not getting any better with the passage of time.
His pain occurred when he bent over with his legs wide apart to lift a heavy object. The pain remained essentially unchanged during the past three months in spite of meds and rest.
My suspicion of the SIJ was confirmed by physical exam, and confirmed again when I reduced the subluxed joint.
So the lesson is this:
- Sudden onset unilateral pain in the butt that doesn’t seem to get better with time suggests Sacro Iliac Joint pain
- Pain that comes on with an incident, traumatic, lifting or otherwise suggests SIJ pain.
- Pain that meds and rest does not resolve that interferes with weight bearing or hip flexion suggests SIJ pain
Not all back pain is back pain. Not all buttock pain is SIJ pain.
The combination of the history (which raises suspicions) and the physical exam which (confirms or refutes them) is the way to make the diagnosis. BUT, if you have unilateral pain in one butt cheek, AND there is an incident that preceded the pain, THEN you might have SIJ pain even if you are not a post partum female.
The dysfunction is easier to treat in men than women, but it can be treated in women successfully along with a stabilizing belt following the reduction of the subluxation that I wrote about earlier.