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Sacroiliac Back Pain

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Sacroiliac Joint Pain

bulletWhat is the sacroiliac joint, and what does it do?
bulletWhat causes SI joint pain?
bulletHow do I know if what I have is SI joint pain?
bulletIf both of my SI joints are doing the same work every day, why does one hurt and not the other?
bulletHow can my Healthcare Professional help me to get better?

What is the sacroiliac joint, and what does it do?

The sacroiliac, or "SI", joints (there is one on each side of the body) are the link between your spinal column and pelvis. They help absorb damaging shock forces, and they also help stabilize the body and transmit weight to the lower limbs. SI joints normally have some amount of movement, and they can move in several planes of motion. SI dysfunction is actually a separate condition from low back pain; however, SI joint dysfunction has been implicated as a common cause of back pain in more than 30 percent of children.1 What's more, it may even be a contributing factor to tension and pain in the jaw muscles and joints.2

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What causes SI joint pain?

Two separate and distinct categories of SI dysfunction exist: primary, which occurs suddenly due to trauma, lifting, slipping, or sudden, unexpected movements; and secondary, which is caused by faulty posture aggravated by occupation or habits. Pressure can build up on the SI joint(s) for years before any obvious discomfort is noticed.

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How do I know if what I have is SI joint pain?

Only a qualified health care professional can locate the source or sources of the discomfort you are experiencing. Usually, your healthcare professional will ask you several questions about the location and intensity of your pain, whether the pain seems to spread to other parts of the body (thigh, buttock, groin, leg, foot, etc.), if it causes you to limp, if it hurts to turn over in bed or get up from a chair, etc. Postural evaluation, joint examination, and diagnostic testing are common techniques many healthcare professional use to help them determine whether or not you are experiencing a true dysfunction of the SI joint.

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If both of my SI joints are doing the same work every day, why does one hurt and not the other?

If traumatic injury (a fall, car accident, sports injury, etc.) has been ruled out in your case, and the pain seems to lessen when you're lying down and not moving, a postural imbalance might be contributing to your condition. There may be an imbalance in your feet, or your legs may be unequal in length just enough to be causing stress or strain to your SI joints. Your healthcare professional can determine whether your condition is being affected by a pedal imbalance or leg length inequality (LLI).

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How can my healthcare professional help me to get better?

Depending on the diagnosis of your condition, your healthcare professional has treatment programs to help relieve your pain, stabilize your posture, and restore normal function to your SI joints. The following are just some of the treatment areas your healthcare professional might pursue in your case:

bulletMobilization of the affected joint(s) for proper alignment.
bulletExercise possibly in a program designed by Dr. Lommell to build muscle strength and joint stability.
bulletSupport for the low back/pelvic areas when you are sitting or sleeping, such as a postural back rest for sitting support, and a cervical support pillow to help promote comfort and proper alignment of the spine during sleep.
bulletUse of spinal/pelvic stabilizers (foot orthotics) to help restore foot stability, compensate for a leg length inequality, and absorb damaging heel-strike shock.

Speed and extent of recovery vary among individuals. Ask your healthcare professional if postural support products or home exercise equipment might help your condition to improve more quickly.

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  1. Mierau DR. et al: Sacroiliac joint dysfunction and low back pain in school aged children. JMPT 1984; 7(2):81-84.
  2. Gregory TM: Temporomandibular disorder associated with sacroiliac sprain. JMPT 1993; 16(4):256-265.

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