The Sacroiliac joint is located at the bottom and just to the side of the back. They can become inflamed and painful. We explain the condition including symptoms and treatment.
In addition, we describe how a sacroiliac support belt can help relieve symptoms.
Symptoms of SI joint injury
Sacroiliac joint pain is usually located either to the left or right of the lower back although patients sometimes described it as a band of pain across the lower back. Pain can range from an ache to a sharp pain which can restrict movement. Sacroiliac joint pain may radiate out into your buttocks and low back and will often radiate to the front into the groin and occasionally testicles. Stiffness in the lower back when getting up after sitting for long periods and when getting up from bed in the morning is also common.
Read more on sacroiliac symptoms and diagnosis.
What is Sacroiliac joint injury?
The Sacroiliac joints are located at the very bottom of the back, one either side of the spine and help make up the rear part of the pelvic girdle. SIJ dysfunction is a term which is commonly used when talking about sacroiliac injuries. This dysfunction refers to either hypo or hypermobility (low or high respectively). In other words, the joint can become 'locked' or be too mobile. This leads to problems with surrounding tissues such as ligaments and muscles causing a wide range of symptoms throughout the lower back and buttocks. Sacroiliac joint pain can occur from four different causes; traumatic, biomechanical, hormonal and inflammatory joint disease.
Read more on causes of SI joint dysfunction.
Treatment of sacroiliac joint pain
Rest from any activities which cause pain, particularly running. Wearing a sacroiliac support belt which may help take the strain off the joint and provide relief from symptoms. It works by applying compression around the hip and across the joint, protecting it from further injury.
If muscle spasm around the area is suspected use a heat pack to help them relax. Don't heat if acute inflammation of the joint is suspected though as this will make the condition worse. In this case, cold therapy may be more effective. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen which can help reduce inflammation and relax muscles.
A therapist who specializes in back conditions can do a full assessment and diagnostic tests to discover the cause of the problem ruling out medical diseases such as Ankylosing Spondylitis. Electrotherapy such as ultrasound or interferential may be used to treat soft tissues and if indicated and safe to do, level the pelvis via sacroiliac joint manipulation and mobilization. Sports massage may help relieve any soft tissue tension in the area.
A rehabilitation program to correct any muscle imbalances is important. This is likely to include pilates exercises which may help strengthen the core muscles of the trunk. If the above treatment fails, a Corticosteroid injection into the SIJ may be used. Stretching exercises for the muscles of the hip, particularly the hip abductors (on the outside) and gluteal muscles can help if done gently, however, too much stretching with a hypermobile joint can inflame the joint and increase pain.