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Pain 101: 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.

Pain 101: Intro To Sacroiliac Joint Pain

Are you experiencing pain or problems in your sacroiliac joint? Click on this video to learn more about SI joint pain and steps you can take to decrease your pain.


the main types of sacroiliac joint pain

Joint Strain or Irritation

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.

Muscle Imbalances

Muscle Imbalances

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.

Joint Dysfunction

Joint Dysfunction

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

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.

Joint Instability

Joint Instability

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)

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.

What can you do about your Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

The solution to your sacroiliac joint pain depends on the source of your pain and type of injury you may have sustained. The first step is to consult with your doctor and discuss their recommendations for treating the pain in your SI joint. Your doctor may recommend restrictions on specific activities, medication and/or physical therapy. You can try the following steps now to help alleviate your pain.


It is important when you are experiencing SI joint pain to limit your activity and rest so that your back can heal.

Cold Packs

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

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.

Exercises for sacroiliac joint pain

Following are a few exercises you can perform that may help alleviate pain. Please go to LIFE+for a more videos that may help you. Please consult your physician before trying these, and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.

What is Physical Therapy?

  • Physical therapists are trained, licensed specialists who help individuals develop, maintain, and restore maximum movement and function. Physical therapists specialize in helping restore flexibility and strength to the spine to allow you to enjoy your life, pain free. Discuss with your doctor if physical therapy is a good option for your SI joint pain.

Treatment Approach

  • Medical research has shown physical therapy to be an effective treatment with positive long term outcomes for patients with chronic SI joint pain. A successful treatment plan consists of the following: hands-on therapy, an exercise program, posture & body mechanics training, and modalities (cold/heat, ultrasound electrical stimulation).

Hands-On Therapy

Physical therapists are trained to apply specialized, hands-on techniques that help relax tight muscles and restore joint movement in the SI joint.

Exercise Program

A patient-specific exercise program focusing on mobility and strength will be designed to help you return to your optimal daily activity and quality of life.

Posture & Body Mechanics Training

Physical Therapists are experts at movement analysis. Your physical therapist will help you improve your posture and body mechanics for your daily activities.


Cold/heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation are used to decrease pain and relax the muscles.