DOI: 10.1111/papr.13338 ISSN: 1530-7085

5. Sacroiliac joint pain

Karolina Szadek, Steven P. Cohen, Javier de Andrès Ares, Monique Steegers, Jan Van Zundert, Jan Willem Kallewaard
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine



Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is defined as pain localized in the anatomical region of the SI joint. The reported prevalence of SI joint pain among patients with mechanical low back pain varies between 15% and 30%.


In this narrative review, the literature on the diagnosis and treatment of SI joint pain was updated and summarized.


Patient's history provides clues on the source of pain. The specificity and sensitivity of provocative maneuvers are relatively high when three or more tests are positive, though recent studies have questioned the predictive value of single or even batteries of provocative tests. Medical imaging is indicated only to rule out red flags for potentially serious conditions. The diagnostic value of SI joint infiltration with local anesthetic remains controversial due to the potential for false‐positive and false‐negative results. Treatment of SI joint pain ideally consists of a multidisciplinary approach that includes conservative measures as first‐line therapies (eg, pharmacological treatment, cognitive‐behavioral therapy, manual medicine, exercise therapy and rehabilitation treatment, and if necessary, psychological support). Intra‐ and extra‐articular corticosteroid injections have been documented to produce pain relief for over 3 months in some people. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the L5 dorsal ramus and S1‐3 (or 4) lateral branches has been shown to be efficacious in numerous studies, with extensive lesioning strategies (eg, cooled RFA) demonstrating the strongest evidence. The reported rate of complications for SI joint treatments is low.


SI joint pain should ideally be managed in a multidisciplinary and multimodal manner. When conservative treatment fails, corticosteroid injections and radiofrequency treatment can be considered.

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