Spinal Fusion and Sacroiliac Pain: Do They Go Hand in Hand?

September 28, 2012

What is sacroiliac pain?

Sacroiliac pain (aka sacroiliac joint pain) refers to the pain originating in the sacroiliac joints, which connect the sacrum (the lower part of the spine) to the pelvis.  Sacroiliac pain can be felt in the lower back, buttocks, groin, legs, lower extremities, as well as the abdomen region.

Do sacroiliac pain and sacroiliac joint dysfunction mean the same thing?

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction and sacroiliac pain are often used interchangeably, but they actually do not mean the same thing. As stated earlier, sacroiliac pain refers to the pain that starts from the sacroiliac joints, whereas sacroiliac joint dysfunction refers to abnormal motion of the sacroiliac joints. Although sacroiliac pain can be a main symptom of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sacroiliac joint dysfunction does not always result in sacroiliac pain, and not all sacroiliac pain is caused by sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

What causes sacroiliac pain?

Surrounded by strong ligaments, sacroiliac joints provide stability to the pelvis, and act as shock absorbers to the spine. The joints have only limited mobility. Too much movement (hypermobility) or too little movement (hypomobility) of the sacroiliac joints can cause sacroiliac pain.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is a major risk factor for sacroiliac pain. Other risk factors for sacroiliac pain include traumatic injury, pregnancy, spinal fusion, hip arthritis, and scoliosis.

Do spinal fusion and sacroiliac pain go hand in hand?

Spinal fusion such as lumbosacral fusion, a surgical procedure that fuses the lower part of the lumbar spine and the sacrum together, can lead to sacroiliac joint dysfunction and result in sacroiliac pain. However, spinal fusion and sacroiliac pain do not go hand in hand. Although sacroiliac joints can be a potential source of lower back pain after lumbar or lumbosacral fusion, studies have shown that not all patients suffer from sacroiliac pain after spinal fusion procedures 1,2.


  1. 1.Liliang PC, Lu K, Liang CL, Tsai YD, etc. Sacroiliac joint pain after lumbar and lumbosacral fusion: findings using dual sacroiliac joint blocks. Pain Med. 2011; 12(4): 565-70.
  2. 2. Katz V, Schofferman J, Reynolds J. The sacroiliac joint: a potential cause of pain after lumbar fusion to the sacrum. J Spinal Disord Tech.2003 Feb;16(1):96-9.