That low back pain might not be coming from your back. Here’s what you need to know.

Lower back pain may not generate from the lumbar spine but from the sacroiliac joint. Desert Pain Specialists, with offices in St. George and Cedar City, Utah, and in Mesquite, Nevada, has doctors that can help diagnose and treat your sacroiliac joint dysfunction. | Stock image by KittisakJirasittichai, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — Not all “back pain” originates from the lumbar spine. A common pain generator is the joint between the tailbone (sacrum) and the hip bones (iliac bones) on either side of the tailbone. This joint is called the sacroiliac joint and, if thrown off kilter or irritated, is often the culprit for what some may refer to as back pain.

The sacroiliac joint plays a major role in the transfer of upper-body weight to the lower extremities. Think of the lumbar spine as the weight-bearing beam of the upper body. Its base is the sacrum which is wedged in between the two iliac bones and joined by a complex of ligaments. If this weight is not evenly distributed or transferred smoothly onto the hips and legs, inflammation and arthritis can occur.

Sometimes sacroiliac joint dysfunction is due to an altered gait, the way a person walks. The doctors at Desert Pain Specialists in St. George and Cedar City, Utah, and in Mesquite, Nevada, can help diagnose and treat SI dysfunction. | Photo by PORNCHAI SODA, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

One may then ask, “Why wouldn’t the weight be transferred evenly to the lower extremities?”

There are many reasons but one of the most common causes would be a leg-length discrepancy. In other words, one leg is longer than the other. It is actually common to have a slight leg-length discrepancy simply due to genetics. Most of the time it is insignificant and isn’t a pain generator, but if it is greater than a ½ inch, it is more likely to be a source of dysfunction and possibly pain.

Another possible cause of sacroiliac, or SI, joint dysfunction is due to the altered gait (the way one walks) or slight leg-length discrepancy that may occur after hip or knee replacements.

The most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction is pain over the buttock, which may radiate down the groin or lateral aspect of the thigh but not below the knee. Pain from the sacroiliac joint is typically not nerve type pain (electrical, burning, tingling or numbness) but rather an achy deep pain.

When forming a treatment plan for sacroiliac joint dysfunction, it is important to consider a heel lift if leg length discrepancy is suspected as the cause. Other options include trials of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs; transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS; physical therapy; and chiropractic manipulation therapy.

When the less invasive measures fail to relieve the pain, an SI joint injection under X-ray guidance can be performed to reduce inflammation and more rapidly help the patient return to full physical activity.

If you are experiencing back or SI joint pain and have questions regarding treatment options, you are welcome to call Desert Pain Specialists for an appointment; see resources below for contact options.

About Desert Pain Specialists

Desert Pain Specialists identifies itself as Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team with offices in St. George and Cedar City and in Mesquite, Nevada. Dr. Court Empey and Dr. Spencer Wells, and Dr. Ryan Workman (in Cedar City), are fellowship-trained interventional pain medicine specialists. The doctors and the entire staff at Desert Pain Specialists are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain.

Desert Pain Specialists is located in the Coral Desert Health Center, 1490 Foremaster Drive, Suite 220, in St. George. The team has additional offices at 1760 N. Main St., Cedar City, and 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600, Mesquite, Nevada.

Written by DR. SPENCER WELLS, Desert Pain Specialists.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •


Desert Pain Specialists | Telephone: 435-216-7000 | Email: [email protected] | Website.

  • In St. George: 1490 E. Foremaster Drive, Suite 220.
  • In Cedar City: 1760 N. Main St.
  • In Mesquite, Nevada: 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • youcandoit April 10, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Or it may even go deeper than that. Like my case I have Tarlov cysts disease they grow in the sacrum bone and or anywhere in the spine they erode the bone and nerves in the spine. It starts out as horrible sciatica pain. You can look up Tarlov cysts disease foundation.

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