Sacroiliac joint injuries are one of the most common causes of lower back pain. When there is a problem with the sacroiliac joint, it can cause pain in the lower back, buttocks, hip and thigh. This blog will describe the sacroiliac joint, how it can become injured and symptoms associated with sacroiliac joint problems.
The sacroiliac joint connects the pelvis to the spinal column.
The function of the sacroiliac joint
The two sacroiliac joints (SIJ) are located at the base of the spine, between each side of the sacrum and the ilium. The SIJ is an unusual joint in comparison to other large joints in the body, because they have very little movement, 2-3mm. Its function is to act like a shock absorber within the pelvis, transmitting force between our legs and spine as we move. I consider the SIJ to be similar to the foundations of a building, which are designed to absorb force, distribute weight evenly and prevent long-term structural problems.
The sacroiliac joint is surrounded by some of the most powerful muscles in the body, although none of these muscles directly influence joint movement.
What can cause the sacroiliac joint to become painful?
The SIJ is surrounded by numerous strong ligaments, which guide and limit movement within pelvis. These ligaments can become torn/sprained following trauma such as; a road traffic collision, fall or during actions such as lifting or running. Injury to the SIJ ligaments can cause too much or too little movement within the joint, altering its ability to function as a dual-shock absorber, placing increased strain upon surrounding joints, such as the spine, hip, knee and foot.
Between 50 – 80% of women experience back pain during pregnancy.
Sacroiliac joint pain during pregnancy
Pregnant women have an increased chance of developing SIJ problems. During pregnancy a hormone called relaxin is released within the body, causing ligaments around the pelvis to stretch, this increases the size of the birthing canal in preparation for childbirth. The stretched ligaments can alter joint movement within the pelvis, causing inflammation and pain. Pelvic pain can also develop or continue after childbirth, because the relaxin hormone continues to be produced during breastfeeding. Pain can also occur post-partum as the body begins to return to its pre-pregnancy shape.
Symptoms of sacroiliac joint problems
Pain from the sacroiliac joint can be felt in different areas of the body. Symptoms within each individual patient are different and may include:
- Lower back pain specific to one side of the back just above the buttocks or in a band across the whole lower back.
- Buttock Pain.
- Hip pain.
- Thigh pain.
- Sciatica type symptoms.
- Sacroiliac joint pain can feel like a dull ache or can be sometimes sharp.
I consider the SIJ to be a key joint within body. During my career I have worked with men and women, of all ages, professions and body shapes who have SIJ problems. Altered motion in the SIJ can cause joint compensation in other areas of the body, predisposing other injuries. I have been trained to differentiate between conditions that can cause pain in and around the pelvis, spine, hip, knee, and foot. I do this by discussing your symptoms, medical history, observing the way you move and by performing orthopaedic tests. This process allows me to diagnose and treat the cause of your pain and not just the symptoms.