What is the Sacroiliac Joint?
The sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is a linkage system between the lower part of the spine and the pelvis. Our tailbone (sacrum) connects with the right and left sides of pelvic bones to form the sacroiliac joint. Our sacroiliac joint is a fairly stiff and rigid connection between the tailbone and pelvic bones (including the iliac crests), and only a few degrees of movement occur here.
When our SI joints are not moving correctly either due to excessive stiffness or excessive movement, it is called sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Pain is typically felt in the lower back (lumbar spine) and hip region, which is a usual symptom of SI joint dysfunction.
Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
There are multiple causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, some of which are:
1) Degenerative Arthritis
Degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis of the sacroiliac joint occurs due to cartilage breakdown as a result of age-related wear and tear changes of cartilage. Breakdown of cartilage is predisposed by:
- Trauma or injury.
- Stress on sacrum due to repeated movements.
- Congenital malformation.
2) Ankylosing Spondylitis
Pain and inflammation of the sacroiliac joint is the first symptom of this disease. Ankylosing spondylitis originates first in the sacroiliac joint and then further progresses to the spine and upper body.
3) Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is a condition in which joints are inflamed and painful with scaly skin patches, termed as psoriasis.
Gout is caused by excessive accumulation of monosodium urate crystals in the joint spaces resulting from increased uric acid.
The sacroiliac joints or its supporting ligaments may be injured by trauma. It can result from a small trauma, e.g. from stepping on a chair or from a big trauma, e.g. a fall or in a vehicle or motorbike injury.
6) Laxation of Ligaments during Pregnancy
The hormones relaxin and progesterone are secreted in the body of the mother during pregnancy which causes the relaxation of muscles and ligaments, especially in the pelvic region. Sometimes, due to excessive laxation, a sacroiliac joint is displaced and causes severe pain. Symptoms are relieved after pregnancy.
7) Mechanical Stress
Some people have stiffened joints due to surgical spinal fusion or arthritis. Additional stress is exerted on SI joint due to stiffness which may lead to pain and degenerative changes.
SI joint has to support extra weight in the obese persons who cause weakening of ligaments and wear and tear changes in the bone. This causes swelling and pain of the joint.
9) Leg Length Discrepancy
If one leg is shorter than the other, alteration of the normal walking pattern occurs.
10) Hypermobility Disorders
Hypermobility disorders due to increased contractions of transversus abdominis muscle and oblique abdominals muscles which support the SI joint through their attachments through iliac bones.
Symptoms of SI Joint Dysfunction
Here are some symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction:
- Pain in the lower back, pelvic region, buttocks or groin.
- Feeling of tingling, numbness and weakness in the lower part of the body.
- Buckling of leg and leg pain.
- Insomnia due to severe pain.
- Unable to sit for a long time.
- Pain is getting worse with transitional movements (sitting from standing or vice versa), climbing stairs or standing on one leg.
- Pain that is worse during sexual intercourse or during menstruation in women.
How to Prevent Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be avoided by certain lifestyle modifications. Somme suggestions include:
- Always adopt proper and good lifting techniques.
- Maintain good posture while sleeping, moving, standing and sitting.
- Engage in regular exercises with stretching movements of the body and strengthening exercises.
- Ensure proper nutrition with adequate calcium and vitamin D intake.
- Maintain your weight within the normal range of BMI.
- Avoid smoking.
- Adopt stress management and relaxation techniques.
- If you are suffering from depression, seek professional help from a psychologist.
- If you lift heavy weights as part of your job, do not lift the load beyond your capacity and wear a back support belt during working hours.
The best treatment modality is to treat the underlying cause of sacroiliac joint pain or dysfunction. Some conventional treatment options include.
- Physical Therapy Exercise strengthens the muscles and makes the body more flexible. The therapist may also try heat and cold fomentation, ultrasound, massage and stretching techniques to relieve pain.
- Injections with corticosteroids to reduce joint inflammation.
- Chiropractic treatment that is about spinal manipulation and treatment of surrounding structures.
- Nerve treatment is a technique in which the nerve that sends the signals of pain from SI joint to the brain is permanently damaged by a needle.
- Topical therapy with items such as topical patches, salves or creams.
Some of these approaches are rather invasive and in a large number of cases do not provide the desired effects for people with painful health conditions, such as SI joint dysfunction. A better alternative is to address the root cause of SI joint pain in a natural, non-invasive way, through the help of a special spinal decompression device, called the Backrack.
Non-invasive Spine Treatment Modality
Please note: this article is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
Author: Spinal Backrack