Are you experiencing pain in the lower back that radiates down your leg and gets worse when you run or exercise? You may have Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. SI joint pain contributes to around 15-30% of back pain. It is more prevalent in women who are pregnant or have recently given birth.
What is the SI joint?
The SI joints are located either side of the lower spine. They connect the sacrum, the large, triangular bone at the base of the spine, with the iliac/hip bones. Hence the name sacroiliac! The joints have an important function as shock absorbers between the lower spine and the tailbone.
What causes SI joint dysfunction?
Pain and dysfunction occur when an SI joint is inflamed and moves too much or too little. When the joint moves too much, it is known as hypermobility, or instability. When it moves too little, this is called hypomobility, or fixation
SI joint pain can be triggered by:
- Regular heavy lifting and manual labour.
- Prolonged sitting or standing.
- Certain sports like ice-skating, golf and bowling.
- Specific injury or trauma (e.g. motor vehicle accident).
- Pregnancy or birth.
Why is SI joint dysfunction common in pregnancy?
SI joint dysfunction is more common in women who are pregnant or have recently given birth. This is because of postural changes, weight gain, increased strain on the lower back, an increase in relaxin hormones which cause the ligaments around the joints to relax, as well as trauma from delivery.
What are the symptoms of SI joint dysfunction?
Deep-seated, lower back pain on one side is the most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction. Hypermobility is characterised by pelvic pain that radiates to the groin. With hypomobility, there is more muscle tension, reduced motion, stiffness and pain radiating down the glutes.
Other common symptoms of SI joint dysfunction are:
- Sciatica-like pain that radiates down the buttocks, hip, groin, and leg.
- Pain that increases from activities including walking, running and climbing stairs.
- Difficulty sitting for long periods of time.
- Feeling of instability in the pelvis.
Can chiropractic treatment help?
Chiropractic treatment can help to bring you relief and manage your symptoms so that we can get you back to feeling your best.
During your initial appointment, we will perform a thorough examination to ensure we correctly diagnose and treat your body. This may involve checking where your pain is located, your posture, and range of motion.
Once we’ve established if SI joint dysfunction is the issue, we will develop a treatment plan for you. Treatment will be modified based on whether the joint is hypermobile or hypomobile.
- The initial treatment of SI joint dysfunction focuses on reducing pain. You may find heat or cold therapy helpful here.
- The next step is to improve mobility and function. A range of techniques may be used including chiropractic manipulation of the SI joint and lumbar spine using high-velocity thrust manipulation or low-velocity techniques.
- Stretches to help release tight muscles and strengthening exercises for your glutes and core muscles may also feature in your treatment plan.
- We may recommend the use of pelvic support belts to help stabilise the area, particularly during pregnancy.
- If there is a specific sport or activity that is triggering the pain, you may need to modify it initially, while you recover.
If you think you may be suffering from SIJ or lower back pain and need help to manage it, then give us a call on +61 3 5381 1892 to book your appointment!