The Two-way Connection Between the Lumbar Spine and the Sacroiliac Joints

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Issues along the spine are often linked, and treating the entire issue at once has been one of the keys to our success in helping patients get rid of pain. Such is often the case with your lumbar spine and your sacroiliac joints.

The connectivity of the human body is a marvel, and a problem in one area creating issues in another is more of a rule than an exception. A great illustration of this is the link between your lumbar spine and your sacroiliac (SI) joints, which is very much a two-way street.

At our practice, board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Ali H. Mesiwala has excelled in his field by recognizing this connection and addressing both areas at the same time to deliver excellent motion preservation results.

In the following, we explore how degenerative issues in your lumbar spine can lead to SI joint dysfunction, and vice versa, and why treating both is important.

A look at sacroiliac joint disorders

In order to understand the connection between your lumbar spine and your SI joints, it’s important to first take a look at each of these areas individually.

Your SI joints connect your sacrum, a triangular-shaped piece of bone, to your hips. Your sacrum is located just beneath your lumbar spine and right above your coccyx.

These joints act as the primary points of connection between your upper body and lower body, enabling movement and shock absorption between the two areas. 

Under normal circumstances, your SI joints don’t allow for much movement and are fairly stable. When you have SI joint dysfunction, one of two things happens — the joints are too loose or they're too stiff.

Degenerative issues in your lower back

Now let’s turn to the area above your SI joints — your lumbar spine. This area of your spine is ground zero for most back pain since it does the heavy lifting in terms of mobility and support.

As a result of the considerable workload, your lower back is susceptible to wear-and-tear issues, such as:

  • Degenerative disc disease — your discs compress and become brittle
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis — a narrowing in your spinal canal
  • Facet joint arthritis

These issues account for more than their fair share of the overall lower back pain burden, which is the leading cause of disability around the world.

Connecting the dots

When addressing health conditions, medical providers historically zeroed in on the primary condition and treated it. Thanks to a growing understanding and appreciation of connectivity in the human body, we now aim to connect some more dots and treat the overall problem for much improved results.

Dr. Mesiwala is a leader in this field, as he understood that SI joint dysfunction and lumbar spine issues were often linked — in both directions.

For example, let’s say you have lumbar spinal stenosis and you’re walking hunched over to relieve the pain. This posture can have a significant impact on your SI joints, creating a concurrent issue in the small joints as a result. This explains why studies show that decompression in the lumbar spine can greatly improve SI joint pain.

Going in the other direction, you might develop SI joint dysfunction that leads to (or exacerbates) a condition in your lower back, compounding an already uncomfortable situation.

Thanks to his engineering background, not only has Dr. Mesiwala connected these dots, he also developed an implant that he uses to fixate the SI joint during lumbar and/or thoracolumbar fusion procedures in patients with degenerative conditions in the spine. 

With this innovative approach, Dr. Mesiwala has changed the field of spine surgery by coming up with a technique and patented device that does double duty in bringing relief and improved mobility to our patients.

If you want help figuring out what’s going on in your lower back, it’s a good idea to seek the help of someone who looks at the whole picture. And Dr. Mesiwala is that someone?

 For a comprehensive evaluation of your lower back issues, please contact one of our offices in Newport Beach, Marina del Rey, or Rancho Cucamonga, California, to schedule a consultation.