The sacroiliac joint is a small joint in the pelvis that can cause a lot of pain if it becomes inflamed or irritated. Sacroiliac joint pain is often mistaken for lower back pain, but it can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be so similar. In this article, we will explain the causes of sacroiliac joint pain, how to tell if you are suffering from it, and the different treatment options available to help relieve your symptoms.
What is the sacroiliac joint?
The sacroiliac joint is a small, triangular-shaped joint that connects the base of the spine to the pelvis. It is located on either side of the lower back where the Sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) meets the hip bones (ilium). The Sacroiliac joint is held together by a strong network of ligaments and muscles, which helps to stabilise the pelvis.
The Sacroiliac joint is a weight-bearing joint, which means that it supports the entire upper body when we are standing upright. It also acts as a shock absorber, absorbing impact from walking and running. Because of its location and function, the Sacroiliac joint is susceptible to injury and pain.
What causes sacroiliac joint pain?
The most common cause of Sacroiliac joint pain is an injury or overuse of the joint. This can happen due to a fall, lifting a heavy object, or repetitive movements such as running or stair climbing. Other causes of Sacroiliac joint pain include:
– Arthritis: Sacroiliac joint pain can be caused by arthritis, which is the inflammation of the joints. There are two types of arthritis that can affect the Sacroiliac joint: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that occurs when the cartilage (the protective layer between the bones) breaks down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joints.
– Pregnancy: Sacroiliac joint pain is a common complaint during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. This is because the extra weight of the baby puts added pressure on the Sacroiliac joint.
– Spinal problems: Conditions such as spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one of the vertebrae slips out of place) and scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine) can put extra strain on the Sacroiliac joint and cause pain.
Symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint dysfunction
The most common symptom of Sacroiliac joint pain is a dull, aching pain in the lower back or buttocks. The pain is often worse when you are standing or walking for long periods of time. Other symptoms of Sacroiliac joint pain include:
– Pain that radiates down the leg
– Pain that is worse when you sit for long periods of time
– Pain that is worse at night or when you wake up in the morning
– Stiffness or limited range of motion in the lower back
– Muscle spasms in the lower back
– Tenderness over the Sacroiliac joint
How is Sacroiliac Joint Pain diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to see your doctor or physiotherapist for a proper diagnosis. Sacroiliac joint pain can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are so similar to those of other conditions, such as lower back pain or hip pain. Your doctor or physiotherapist will take a detailed history of your symptoms and may order X-rays, MRI, or CT scan to rule out other conditions. They may also perform a physical examination, during which they will check for tenderness over the Sacroiliac joint and perform a series of tests to assess stability around the pelvic girdle during various activities.
Physio treatment for sacroiliac joint pain
There are a number of different physiotherapy treatments that can be effective in treating Sacroiliac joint pain. The type of treatment that is best for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your pain.
Exercises to improve muscle control around the pelvic girdle
One of the most important things you can do to treat Sacroiliac joint pain is to improve the muscle control around your pelvic girdle. This can be done with a series of specific exercises that target the muscles that support the Sacroiliac joint. Your physiotherapist will prescribe a home exercise program tailored specifically for you.
Compression belts and taping
Compression belts and taping can be helpful in managing Sacroiliac joint pain by providing support and stability to the joint. Your physiotherapist will assess you to see if compression belt or taping is appropriate for your condition.
Manual therapy, such as manipulation and mobilization, can be effective in treating Sacroiliac joint pain. Your physiotherapist will use their hands to apply a specific force to the Sacroiliac joint to restore normal movement and function.
Trigger point release
Trigger point release is a type of massage that can help relieve muscle tightness and spasm around the Sacroiliac joint. Your physiotherapist will use their hands to apply pressure to specific points in the muscles around the joint.
Dry needling is a type of treatment that involves inserting thin needles into trigger points in the muscles around the Sacroiliac joint. This can help to relieve muscle pain and spasm. Your physiotherapist will assess you to see if dry needling is appropriate for your condition.
Getting help for your sacroiliac joint pain
If you are experiencing Sacroiliac joint pain, it is important to see your doctor or physiotherapist for a proper diagnosis. They will be able to recommend the best treatment option for you.
At Penrith Physiotherapy Sports Centre, our team of experienced physiotherapists can help you manage your Sacroiliac joint pain. We offer a range of services, including:
– Exercises to improve muscle control around the pelvic girdle
– Compression belts and taping
– Manual therapy
– Trigger point release