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Common Injuries and Treatments

Ankle / Elbow / Hip / Knee / Shoulder / Spine / Wrist



Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

What is sacroiliac joint dysfunction?

The sacrum is the bottom section of the spinal vertebrae comprised of 5 fused vertebral segments. It connects to the lumbar spine above and sits between the pelvic bones (ilia) on each side. Where the sacrum meets the ilia on each side is called the sacroiliac joint or SI joint. The SI joints provide extensive support in transitioning pressure from the top and bottom halves of the body. The head, arms, rib cage and spine all load from above and the legs push stress up from the ground into the hips, pelvis and sacrum. The SI joints have strong ligamentous support to help to distribute all of these forces.  When the SI joints are not stabilizing or moving correctly, SI joint dysfunction can occur.  Pain is usually located on either, or both, sides of the lowest part of the low back, just below the belt line.

What causes injuries to this tissue?

These joints can be sprained just as any other joint can when a stress greater than what the joint can handle is placed on in it. This can lead to low back and buttock pain. The SI joint does have some ability to move despite its strong ligamentous connections and can be impacted my muscle tightness and weakness especially when the differences are asymmetric.  These asymmetric stresses can lead to pain.

What is the best treatment approach?

Physical therapy can be helpful in the treatment of pain in this area.   Chiropractic care, massage, and acupuncture can also be helpful to identify and mitigate symptoms.

What will the role of physical therapy be in this process?

A thorough evaluation of the area by a physical therapist is vital to establish the true cause of the pain.  Assessing the entire spine, the low back, the hips and the entire lower extremity are often important to pinpoint the cause of the symptoms.  Often an exercise program can help to deal with any of the imbalances in strength and flexibility in the hip and low back regions that can contribute SI joint dysfunction. Modalities may be helpful with initial inflammation and pain.  Sacroiliitis is an inflammatory condition of the SI joint with systemic (internal) causes and is more of a medical problem treated by a physician. If SI joint pain does not respond to physical therapy, referral to a physician who specializes in this area is appropriate.

Will other services be helpful in taking care of this?

Underlying muscle tightness and soft tissue restrictions that are found to be related to a sacroiliac joint dysfunction may be helped by massage therapy work.  Acupuncture can also be of assistance with the pain associated with these conditions.  Training to return to specific life tasks or sports can be initiated by physical therapists and progressed by personal trainers.  After your initial physical therapy evaluation, your physical therapist will help to determine if these services may be helpful.

Need More?

If you have more clinical questions about this condition, please click here to email our Director of Clinical Operations, Jessica Douglas, MSPT, OCS, or you can get more information by searching our blog.

If you'd like a complimentary injury screen with one of our licensed physical therapists to discuss your condition, please contact us.

If you're ready to make an appointment for any of our services, please contact us.

Patient Info

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