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SI Joint Dysfunction

SI Joint Dysfunction

What is SI Joint Dysfunction?

There are two SI (sacroiliac) joints, one on your right, and one on your left.

They connect the hip bones (iliac crests) to the sacrum, the bone between the lower (lumbar) spine and the tailbone (coccyx).

The main function of the SI joints are to absorb shock between the upper body and the pelvis and legs, as well as help with forward and backward bending, though the SI joint itself has little motion.

Each SI joint is supported and stabilized by strong ligaments surrounding it. The gluteus maximus muscle and piriformis muscle also support the function of each SI joint.

SI joint dysfunction is due to muscular imbalances surrounding the sacroiliac joints on either side of the pelvis. When the muscles are not being optimized, the result is pain and irritation of the SI joint(s).

If left untreated, one problem can lead to many.

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

What Causes SI Joint Dysfunction?

There is no one cause of SI joint dysfunction, but factors that increase your likelihood of developing it include:

  • Direct trauma such as falls or motor vehicle accidents
  • Previous injuries or surgeries to the area, such as a hip replacement
  • Long-term, repetitive strain or overuse, whether recreational, such as running, or occupational, such as heavy lifting or other labour-intensive jobs, or jobs that require prolonged sitting like truck driving
  • Pregnancy – hormones and pelvic changes can cause the SI joints to loosen (hypermobility); for some women, hypermobility lasts after pregnancy as the ligaments are stretched and cannot return to their previous state
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Gait issues such as leg-length differences
  • Poor posture, such as hunching over a computer or bending and lifting improperly which can cause joint hypomobility (restricted movement) or hypermobility and put permanent stress on the lower back and SI joints

What are the Signs and Symptoms of SI Joint Dysfunction?

Signs and symptoms of SI joint dysfunction include:

  • Sharp, stabbing, or even a dull ache in the lower back and buttocks
  • Pain that spreads to the hips, groin, thigh and less commonly, the knee (pain may be felt on one side or both)
  • Difficulty walking up the stairs, changing position, bending at the waist, lying on one side, or standing up
  • Stiffness in the lower back, hips, and/or groin, causing decreased range of motion

Concerned about symptoms of SI joint dysfunction? Book a physiotherapy assessment at your local pt Health clinic today.

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How is SI Joint Dysfunction Treated?

SI joint dysfunction can occur at the same time as degenerative disk disease, arthritis or sciatica, so diagnosis can be complicated. 

Treatments for SI joint dysfunction include:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Medications (which can create serious side effects and should not be taken long-term), including:
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), either prescribed, or over-the-counter, such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve
    • Muscle relaxants
    • Injections
  • Surgery – if surgery is necessary after other less invasive treatments have not helped, physiotherapy is an important part of rehabilitation

Physiotherapy for SI Joint Dysfunction

Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain, preventing chronic pain, regaining strength, and increasing joint mobility and function. 

At pt Health, you’ll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem. 

Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for SI joint dysfunction can include:

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Can SI Joint Dysfunction Go Away On Its Own?

With proper treatment, SI joint dysfunction can get better, however, without activity modification, symptoms are likely to recur. 

After all, improper actions and movements have a lasting effect on our joints, and functional retraining may need to take place to correct any imbalances and prevent future occurrences.

That is why it is important to follow your physiotherapy plan and exercises, even if you are feeling better. Not doing so can cause the condition to become chronic or last longer.

If you have SI joint dysfunction, there are things you can do to make daily life easier, including:

  • Minimizing or avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain
  • Switching from high-intensity activities like jogging, to low-intensity activities like swimming once the pain is gone
  • Applying heat and cold therapy
  • Using an ergonomic chair at work and home

Can You Prevent SI Joint Dysfunction?

There are steps you can take to prevent or reduce the chance of developing SI joint dysfunction, including:

  • Exercising regularly, including stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi, at least 30 minutes every day
  • Practicing good posture
  • Staying active; avoid staying in one position for too long
  • Warming up before exercise and stretching afterward
  • Practicing proper technique in sport including targeted stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Eating a non-inflammatory diet (avoiding sugar, and processed and refined foods) and drinking plenty of water
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Using an ergonomic chair at work and home
  • Wearing orthotics and properly supportive shoes for your activity

Speak to a physiotherapist about the best exercises for your activities.

Book a Physiotherapist Consult for SI Joint Dysfunction Today

Concerned about symptoms of SI joint dysfunction? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today. 

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