Sacro-ilitis Treatments – Medication & Physiotherapy

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sacro-ilitis is an inflammation of the sacro-iliac joints – that is the joints that connect your lower spine to the pelvis.  When they’re irritated and swollen, these lower back joints cause a sharp pain in your lower back and buttocks.  The pain may also extend down your leg/s and it’s made worse by standing for a long time or climbing stairs.

Expert diagnosis

‘Sacro’ is one of the diseases that cause arthritis of the spine and should be diagnosed by a doctor who’s a specialist in this area, because it’s sometimes brushed off as back pain caused by other reasons.  A consultant will give you the special tests needed to pinpoint the real cause of your problem and prescribe the best treatment plan.

The treatment plan for ‘sacro’ often combines, rest, physiotherapy and powerful medication.


  • Pain relievers - A powerful pain reliever or a short course of a ‘narcotic’ painkiller  
  • These drugs are habit-forming and shouldn't be taken any longer than strictly necessary.
  • Muscle relaxants – Drugs such as cyclobenzaprine/Flexeril reduce muscle spasms
  • Cortico-steroids – Injections into joints - drugs like betamethasone/Celestone or triamcinolone/Kenalog reduce pain/swelling.  
  • You can only have a few joint injections a year because steroids weaken bones and tendons.
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs DMARD’s - Sulfasalazine/Azulfidine and methotrexate help ‘sacro’ caused by ankylosing spondylitis.
  • TNF inhibitors - Relieve some types of ‘sacro’ associated with ‘anky-spondylitis’ e.g. etanercept/Enbrel, adalimumab/Humira and infliximab/Remicade.


As you can see, ‘sacro’ treatment leans heavily on some pretty strong drugs, which you can’t always continue taking in the long-term.  For this reason, physiotherapy is an important way to help reduce your dependence on painkillers and keep your whole body in good condition.


Therapeutic massage is an excellent way to loosen stiff joints, reduce swelling and lower your pain and regular physio massage can dramatically improve movement and range.


Water treatments like warm water swimming are an important part of a physio exercise plan.  This is because you feel more comfortable when your joints are supported by water - free of pressure and pain.

Weak ‘core stability’ muscles mean your muscles can’t control and guide the movements of your ‘sacro’ joints and gentle physio exercises strengthen muscles and improve mobility.

Heat therapy

Heat therapy and Ultrasound are effective to reduce inflammation in swollen joints and aid mobility.

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