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.
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.