The extra-articular sacroiliac joint (SIJ) structure is a potential source for low back and pelvic pain. This study hypothesised that experimental pain induced in a superficial pelvic ligament causes (1) hyperalgesia to pressure, (2) distinct pain referral, and (3) an increased frequency of positive pain provocation tests of the SIJ complex. Thirty healthy subjects (15 females) participated in this study designed as a randomised crossover trial. Pain was induced in the long posterior sacroiliac ligament by injection of hypertonic saline, with the contralateral ligament injected with isotonic saline as control. Pain intensity was assessed on an electronic visual analogue scale (VAS). Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) and pain provocation tests were assessed on 3 occasions: at baseline, after injection, and when pain had subsided. PPT sites were located bilaterally at the injection site, lateral to spinous processes of S2 and L5, and at the gluteus medius and gastrocnemius muscles. Hypertonic saline caused significantly higher VAS scores and more extended pain referral than isotonic saline (P<0.001). PPTs at the injection site and lateral to S2 were significantly reduced after hypertonic saline compared with baseline and isotonic saline (P<0.002). Significantly more subjects had positive pain provocation tests after hypertonic (67% of subjects) compared with isotonic saline (20%; P<0.001). These data demonstrate that the extra-articular SIJ structure accommodates nociceptors that are capable of inducing pain referral and regional hyperalgesia sensitive to manual pain provocation tests similar to what previously have been found in pelvic girdle pain patients.
Copyright © 2012 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.