One of the most common reasons that people visit healthcare providers is for lower back pain. In fact, lower back pain is so prevalent that it will affect about 80% of the population at some point in their lives. However, what many people may think is general lower back pain could very well be an issue with their sacroiliac (SI) joints, which are joints located in the pelvis.
SI joint pain can be frustrating not only because of how painful and uncomfortable it can be but also because it is often easily confused for other causes of lower back pain, meaning that it is often left untreated.
Luckily, SI joint adjustments as part of a chiropractic care plan have demonstrated positive results in alleviating symptoms and preventing their return.
How Are the SI Joints Different From Other Joints?
Joints are the areas in the body where two or more bones meet, and they encourage movement and range of motion. However, the SI joints are slightly different than other joints; instead of providing motion, the SI joints provide stability.
The SI joints are two hard, ligamentous joints located just above the tailbone. They connect the spine to the pelvis, and their primary function is to provide support and stability for your body’s core and carry the weight of the entire upper body.
They are reminiscent of a lock and key in appearance in how the thousands of ridges in the SI joints interconnect to provide the sturdiness required to provide that stability. The SI joints are capable of some movement but very little relative to most other joints, with as little as 0.2 mm of joint play.
Causes of SI Joint Pain
SI joints have an extremely complex composition of ligaments and muscles. This, coupled with the extreme levels of pressure that they are under, causes them to be susceptible to inflammation.
Below, we list some of the most common causes of SI joint pain.
|Causes of SI Joint Pain
|Unnatural posture or spinal misalignments above the pelvic area will put more pressure and weight on the lower back and pelvis. SI joint discomfort is more likely to occur if your posture is poor because the excess pressure increases the risk of inflammation. Postural issues like pelvic rotation, anterior or posterior pelvic tilt, and abnormal lumbar lordosis can drive excess pressure into the SI joints.
|Leg length inequality
|One side of the SI joints may bear more weight than the other if one leg is even slightly longer than the other. This additional strain may lead to irritation in the area. For instance, one side may receive the majority of the energy from motion if one limb is longer or weaker than the other. Additionally, if you already have hip or joint issues like arthritis, or if you’ve had limb, ankle, or foot surgery, this could impact your gait and lead to uneven movement.
|Repetitive movements and activities
|Since the main purposes of SI joints are to provide stability during movement and impact absorption, strenuous activities like athletics or heavy hauling can harm them. Long periods of inactivity such as sitting or standing can also cause SI joint pain. If the muscles in the region are not trained to withstand the stress of extended activities, this danger and damage may be more serious.
|Because pregnant women experience hormonal changes that cause muscles in the region to relax, changes in pelvic position and alignment, and weight gain, the SI joint is under intensified strain during pregnancy.
|Injuries sustained to the region can also cause pain in the SI joint because the SI joint acts as part of the body’s shock absorber. This can come from falls or trauma and poor form while exercising.
How Do I Know If My Pain Is Caused by My SI Joint?
Some of the most common symptoms of SI joint pain include:
- Pain located in the:
- Lower back
- Discomfort or a burning feeling in the hip
- Increased pain and discomfort when standing up from a sitting position
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the pelvis and lower back
- General weakness in the lower back or legs
However, since SI joint pain can often be conflated with general lower back pain, you may be wondering how you can differentiate between the two.
One method is performing the Ely’s test. To do this, a chiropractor or physical therapist will have you lie in a prone and relaxed position on your stomach. They will then stand next to you at the side of the leg that will be tested, placing one hand on your lower back and the other hand at the heel on the leg. Flexing the knee, they will raise your heel toward your buttocks. The heel should touch the buttocks; if the heel cannot touch the buttocks, the test is positive. The test is also positive if the hip of the tested side rises up from the table or if the patient experiences pain or tingling in the back or legs.
SI Joint Adjustment Benefits
SI joint pain can sometimes be an acute condition. When that’s the case, the following at-home treatments may help:
- Stabilization exercises:
- Scissor kicks
- Abductor exercises
- Wearing an SI belt: SI belts create artificial stability and can lessen the amount of strain on the joints.
However, for chronic SI joint pain, these treatments will only provide temporary pain relief and will not treat the actual cause of SI joint pain.
Thankfully, chiropractic care offers more long-term treatment options, such as SI joint adjustments that can help treat your SI joint pain.
- Side posture adjustment: While lying on your side, the chiropractor will exert small, controlled thrusts into the lower back and through the SI joints.
- Instrument adjustment: With the use of an activator or other tools, the chiropractor can place direct force into the SI joints.
- Drop table adjustment: Drop tables allow chiropractors to apply more gentle adjustments to the SI joints and also allow gravity to assist in the manipulation.
While these adjustments can relieve the pain in the SI joints and reduce inflammation, adjustments alone won’t resolve the cause of your SI joint pain. It’s important to seek corrective chiropractic care that goes beyond pain relief to uncover the root cause of the problem and treat it.
PostureWorks for Long-Term SI Joint Pain Relief
With CBP, we assess your entire medical history as well as your spine’s curvature to identify what’s causing your SI joint pain, such as postural issues or spinal misalignments. Then, we use that information to craft a treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs that incorporates a mixture of postural exercise plans, neuromuscular reeducation, spinal traction, and chiropractic SI joint adjustments.
By resolving the origin of your pain, you will greatly improve the quality of your life in the long term.
Contact us today for more information on SI joint adjustments or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.