Low Back & Hip Pain?

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is pivotal in contributing to low back pain in many cases.

For those of you unfamiliar with these special joints, they are both sides of the body and are located where the sacrum (triangular bone that ends in the tailbone at the bottom of the spinal column) meets the ileum or hipbone where it divides lower back from buttocks.

Massaging around the sacrum therapeutically

The SI joints are for weight bearing, shock absorption, stabilizing and for transferring twisting movements from the lower body to the upper. In this way they are central to most of our body movements and are exposed to physical forces from both above and below.

It is unusual in the body but the SI joints do not have any muscles that cross the joint and attach either side to strengthen and stabilize them, relying instead on groups of strong ligaments.

Dysfunction can occur for many reasons; overuse, degeneration and arthritis, hormonal changes and weight gain during pregnancy along with the wear and tear of childbirth, a fall,sprain or trauma in that area, leg length discrepancy, injury to the leg which alters walking gait and others.

Injury causes the joint on one side to become either too mobile (hyper) or too fixed (hypo). You can imagine the imbalances in movemnet and muscle use this would cause.

Pain usually occurs as a result of muscle spasming on the weight bearing or dominant side of the body but it can move from side to side as the other joint is affected or, it can present across both SI joints. Pain can refer down into the buttocks and thighs or up into the lower back on the affected side.

Sitting puts more weight bearing stress onto the joint than either standing or lying down. Pain while sitting, driving or getting up from sitting 20 minutes or more, is one way to determine SI joint dysfunction.

Gentle stretching and informed massage, specific to this type of injury can alleviate pain in many people, particularly when they become involved in their own care and keep doing the stretches and exercises at home. Assessment by a primary care physician, an osteopath or chiropractor is always recommended prior to receiving therapeutic massage for SI joint dysfunction.


I have many clients and guests complaining of sciatica, so I’d like to give my thoughts on the subject, since I too suffer from this painful condition from time to time. The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body and originates in the area of the sacrum (the triangular bone between the upper buttocks) and travels down the back of each thigh.

It then divides and innervates the whole lower leg and into the foot. No wonder this condition can be so debilitating!

Firstly let’s distinguish between sciatic-like pain and true sciatica. True sciatica usually goes the entire length of the nerve so that the painful effects are felt all the way down the leg. Sciatic-like pain usually goes to the knee only. I am no doctor and am only speaking from my experience of working with many people over the years. I work very cautiously with true sciatica because it often indicates damage to a low back disc from trauma or deterioration. These changes put pressure on the sciatic nerve and the results are pain, numbness and tingling. In this case, massage will not fix the problem but can often provide welcome, drugless relief while stretching and strengthening or surgery (just 2 of several options) are considered.

Sciatic-like pain often comes from compression of the nerve by the piriformis muscle in the buttocks. The sciatic runs either in front of, behind, or in some cases through the middle of this hard working muscle, so when it is tight, the sciatic is affected. There can still have been trauma, like a fall, but often the person had poor sleeping or sitting posture, they sat too long, walked too much or moved a certain way, causing the sacrum to go out of alignment and put an unnatural pull on the piriformis. This condition responds well to deep, cumulative massages to loosen the piriformis and allow the sacrum to realign (either on its own or with chiropractic help).

The more we know about how our body works, the better off we are in finding solutions to everyday challenges. Always check with your doctor and ask about massage therapy; more and more physicians are knowledgeable about how massage can dovetail with their protocol.

Quick Tip

In a previous newsletter I described how to use a tennis ball to alleviate minor buttock and hip pain. Use it between massages to keep your muscles loose, but don’t forget to stretch the buttocks area often as well, for best results.

Call me at 480-720-6853 to ask a question or email me at rosemary@bodydialog.com to have your question answered on this website.

“Your body is your partner; your symptoms are your guides”