Lower back pain is common for many people. However, many suffer from a specific ailment stemming from inflammation of the SI joint. For example, if you’re experiencing pain when standing up from your chair, the SI joint is a likely culprit.
SI joints or sacroiliac joints, located on either side of the pelvis, are portions of the body that link your pelvis to your lower spine. The purpose of these joints is to support the weight of your upper body while you are in a standing position while also providing stability. SI joint pain, or sacroiliitis, can often be overlooked or mistaken for other causes of back pain.
This can be problematic as not only can SI joint pain afflict individuals with a unique pain or discomfort, but it is also linked to a group of diseases that cause inflammation and arthritis of the spine.
This article will detail the causes and symptoms of SI joint pain and the best SI joint therapy exercises and treatments that you can do to alleviate pain and discomfort.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of SI Joint Pain?
The SI joint is one of the more interesting joints in the entire body. While we may think of joints as having extended ranges of movement, the SI joint has relatively little. In fact, SI joints have as little as .2mm of joint play. Instead of providing motion, the main functionality of SI joints is to provide support and stability for the body as well as to withstand the force between the lumbar and spine.
SI joint pain can be either dull or sharp and typically starts at the SI joint but can also extend to your upper back, groin, thighs, and buttocks.
Causes of SI Joint Pain
Because SI joints are a part of a complex array of muscles and ligaments, there can be many causes to inflammation of the area that can lead to SI joint pain. Some of the most common causes of SI joint pain include but are not limited to:
- Uneven leg length: An uneven leg length causes one side of the SI joint to load more weight than the other. This added stress can cause inflammation to occur in the region. For instance, if one leg is longer or weaker than the other, it can cause one side to take the brunt of the force from motion. Furthermore, if you have existing hip or knee problems such as arthritis or have had leg, ankle, or foot surgery, your gait may be affected which will also cause uneven movement.
- Poor Posture: Any abnormal posture above the pelvis will increase weight and stress into the lower back pelvis. Having poor posture increases your risk of SI joint pain.
- Repetitive or intense activities: Because the primary functions of SI joints are to provide stability during movement and impact absorption, they can be adversely affected by intense activities such as heavy lifting or sports. This risk and damage can be more severe if the muscles in the area are not conditioned to take the stress of prolonged activities. They can also be irritated by prolonged activities such as sitting or standing, especially with poor posture, as this increases the stress on the joints.
- Prior back surgery: Because it can displace pressure on the joint, patients that have undergone back surgery have a significantly increased likelihood of experiencing SI joint pain. Research suggests that SI joint pain following back surgery is extremely common.
- Pregnancy: Because pregnancy causes women to experience sudden weight gain, hormonal changes that cause muscles in the area to relax, as well as changes in pelvic position, pregnancy can lead to SI joint pain
- Sudden trauma: Because the SI joints act as your body’s shock absorber, pain can also arise as a direct result of an injury such as a fall or car accident.
Symptoms of SI Joint Pain
Various symptoms can occur as a result of inflammation of the SI joint. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain in the:
- Lower back
- Increased pain or discomfort when standing up
- Burning sensation or stiffness in the pelvis
- Numbness or tingling in the aforementioned areas
- Weakness or feeling as if your legs cannot support your body
It’s also worth noting it is very common for pain to be limited or more intense in one side of the body than the other. SI joint pain can range in intensity from mild discomfort to severe and can also ebb and flow in intensity. Regardless, chronic SI joint pain can be hugely detrimental to your quality of life as it limits the comfort with which you can participate in daily activities.
Luckily, there are a variety of exercises that you can perform in your own home that can help treat symptoms associated with SI joint pain.
Top SI Joint Therapy Exercises
Since SI joint pain can arise from the irritation of the numerous muscles that connect your pelvis and sacrum, stretches and exercises that loosen up and relax these muscles can potentially alleviate SI joint pain.
These SI joint therapy exercises and stretches can be done in on your own and only require taking a few minutes out of your day to see potential benefits.
- Hip bridges
Hip bridges increase the strength and conditioning of the hip abductor, lower back, and abdomen muscles as well as the surrounding ligaments. Lie on your back with your knees bent and palms flat on the floor. While keeping your palms pressed firmly against the floor, lift your hips into the air and hold the position for 3-5 seconds.
Bringing both of your knees to your chest can reduce SI joint pain because it reduces lingering tension on the muscles and ligaments in your lower back. Lie on your back and bring your legs up to a 90-degree angle. Then wrap your arms around the area just under the knees. Proceed to pull the knees firmly into your chest and bend your chin slightly inwards and hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Quad stretch
Because SI joint pain can often extend into the thighs and also be caused by inconsistent leg strength, quad stretches can help alleviate symptoms and make your legs stronger. Get into a kneeling position and make a 90-degree angle with the extended leg. Grab the top of the relaxed foot, just below the ankle, and pull up while slightly leaning forward and holding onto your knee for balance. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Abductor squeeze
Abductor squeezes make use of a small exercise ball for resistance and give you light exercise that can reduce stiffness and inflammation of the SI joint. Place the ball between your legs and sit down on your buttocks with your knees up and place your palms face down on the floor. Then proceed to lean back so that your palms and elbows are holding you up. Squeeze the ball as hard as you comfortably can for 3-5 seconds.
If you’re dealing with SI joint pain, incorporating these SI joint therapy exercises into your daily routine can go a long way toward treating and alleviating your symptoms. They can also help improve the muscles of the surrounding areas which can result in better stabilization. As these exercises are designed to treat pain, it’s important not to overexert yourself as you may end up further irritating the targeted areas.
However, these SI joint therapy exercises are merely treatments and will not solve the root cause of your SI joint pain. If symptoms persist or get worse over time, you should reach out to a medical professional.
PostureWorks Treats and Prevents SI Joint Pain with Chiropractic BioPhysics®
While SI joint therapy exercises can help you cope with and mitigate pain from symptoms of SI irregularities and inflammation, they won’t provide a long-term solution. Misalignment of the lumbar, spine, and pelvis can result in long-term SI joint pain that can severely impact your spinal health. Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, involves an in-depth health analysis that evaluates your spinal health and identifies the specific causes of your SI joint pain such as postural or structural abnormalities, and develops a treatment plan uniquely tailored to you.
PostureWorks utilizes specialized, non-invasive treatment options like Chiropractic BioPhysics® and a combination of chiropractic care such as spinal alignment traction, neuro-muscular reeducation, postural exercises, and pelvic stabilization to provide long-term pain relief as well as improvements to your SI joints so that you can get back to living your life.Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. Contact us today to schedule your appointment or learn more SI joint therapy exercises.