Pain 101: Sacroiliac Joint Pain
What is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?
The pelvis is the link between the spine and legs. The sacroiliac (SI) joints connect the bones that make up the pelvis, in the back below the lower back. This is a very complex region and a common source of pain. Pain in this region is often present on either side of the pelvis at this joint, can lead to pain in the hip muscles, and may lead to pain radiating down the leg. Pain in this region can be debilitating and limit one’s ability to enjoy their daily activities.
Types of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Joint Strain or Irritation
The SI joint can be strained or irritated due to fall on the hip, a sudden step or landing on the leg, or a traumatic injury. When the joint is strained it can lead to pain and irritation of the joint and the surrounding muscles and ligaments.
Muscles in this region can become imbalanced with tightness in certain muscles and weaknesses in others. This can lead to abnormal stresses on certain muscles and tendons, leading to pain and irritation.
The SI joint can become dysfunctional over time due to postural or muscle imbalances or an injury. This can lead to the joint not moving properly and possibly being out of alignment. This can lead to stress on the muscles and ligaments leading to pain and inflammation in this region.
Arthritis or Degeneration
This joint can become worn out or degenerated over time. This can lead to significant stiffness and lack of movement and possibly pain in the SI joint.
The core muscles (stomach, low back, & hip muscles) provide significant support for this region of the body. When they become weak, they can’t fully support the pelvis, which can lead to instability in the joints and irritation and pain.
Coccyx Pain (Coccydynia)
The coccyx, also known as the ‘tail bone’ is connected to the bottom of the sacrum. When there are problems in the SI joint, this can lead to irritation in the region of the coccyx, leading to irritation and pain in this area.
STEPS TO SACROILIAC JOINT (SI Joint) PAIN
It is important when you are experiencing SI joint pain to limit your activity and rest so that your back can heal.
Apply cold packs to the affected side to help decrease your pain and inflammation in the joints and muscles. To prevent damage to skin and surrounding tissue, cold packs should only be applied in 15 minute intervals.
If you don’t have increased pain with movement, stretching the muscles of the pelvis can be the first step in helping to loosen up your SI Joint and decrease the pain.
Physical therapy consists of hands on treatment to loosen muscles and joints, education on proper gait and movement to decrease pain, instruction on stretching and strengthening exercises to restore mobility and strength, and modalities such as electrical stimulation, cold/heat and ultrasound.
SACROILIAC JOINT (SI Joint) PAIN EXERCISES
Following are a few exercises you can perform that may help alleviate pain. Please go to LIFE+ for more videos that may help you. Please consult your physician before trying these, and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.