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Sacroiliac Joint Pain

What is sacroiliac joint pain?

The Sacroiliac (SI) joints are located between the iliac bones and the sacrum, connecting the spine to the hips. Responsible for support and stability, SI joints impact when walking and lifting.

Strong ligaments and muscles support the SI joints. As we age our bones become arthritic and ligaments stiffen. This, along with cartilage wearing down or another injury, causes pain in the low back.

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Figure 1. The sacroiliac joints connect the base of the spine (sacrum) to the hip bones (ilium).

What are the symptoms?

  • Low back pain
  • Pain radiates to the lower hip, groin or upper thigh
  • Numbness or tingling in the leg
  • Weakness in the leg
  • Symptoms may worsen with sitting, standing, sleeping, walking or climbing stairs
  • Painful sitting or sleeping on the affected side
  • Standing, sitting or walking too long
  • Transitional movements (going from sit to stand)

What are the causes?

The SI joint can become painful when the ligaments become too loose or too tight. This can occur after a variety of reasons including a fall, work injury, car accidents, pregnancy, or hip/spine surgery.

Osteoarthritis

Years of stress on the SI joint can eventually wear down the cartilage and lead to osteoarthritis. Associated with aging, osteoarthritis can affect the SI joint, spine, and other joints throughout the body.
Injury

SI joints can be injured by trauma, such as injuries resulting from falls and car accidents.

Pregnancy

Relaxin, a hormone released during pregnancy, makes the SI joints more elastic. This enables the pelvis to widen to accommodate the birth of a baby. It also makes the joints less stable. Combined with weight gain and the weight of the baby, this often leads to SI joint pain. Women who experience this are more prone to getting arthritis in the SI joints, a risk that increases with each pregnancy.
Some women may walk abnormally while they’re pregnant. Once they give birth and resume walking normally, their SI joint pain may go away.

Walking patterns

Walking abnormally can cause SI joint dysfunction. You may walk abnormally because of issues like having one leg shorter than the other or favoring one leg because of pain. Difference in leg strength,along with arthritis in the hip or knee also play into one’s walking patterns.
Correcting these problems through regular adjustments and proper muscle strengthening may resolve your SI joint pain.

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