Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Do you have a nagging ache in your lower back that won’t go away? Or do you have pain in the buttocks and down the leg? If so, the root of your discomfort might stem from your sacroiliac joints (SI joints).

Inflammation of the SI joint is often a common cause of low back and hip pain. Injury, strenuous activity, poor body mechanics, and pregnancy can all contribute to SI joint issues. In this article, we will explore the causes and symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome, as well as effective treatments options.

What are the Sacroiliac Joints?

The sacroiliac joint is located on both sides of the pelvis. These joints are the points where the sacrum meets with both sides of the hip bone (or ilium). SI joints have a small range of motion and minimal stability, and they do not have much room for movement due to how closely it is wedged between the pelvic bones.

The primary function of the two SI joints is to connect your lower body to your spine. This joint allows you to walk, run, bend over and pick things up off the floor. It also helps transfer weight from side to side when you change directions while walking.

Another function of the SI joints is shock absorption. The SI joints are also responsible for absorbing power which is generated by our gluteal muscles. This power is then transferred through the SI joints into the legs, moving us forward or upward.

Signs and Symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome?

Individuals who have sacroiliac joint syndrome have varying symptoms. However, some of the most common symptoms are:

Stinging Pain on Buttocks After Sitting

Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome can result in stinging pain on one side of the body, particularly in the buttocks. This is because the sacroiliac joints are responsible for transferring all of your weight from the pelvis to the legs and feet every time you take a step, sit down, or stand up. This transfer happens every time you take a step or sit down after standing for some amount of time. When this joint is injured or not functioning as it should, the symptoms may be noticed right away.

Sacrum Pain

The sacrum is located in the lower back and is connected to the pelvic bone. It sits right between the hips and creates an area that can be easily irritated or aggravated by muscle spasms, injuries, or conditions such as sciatica.

Difficulty Walking

Some individuals may feel a sensation of pain and stiffness when walking if their SI joints are inflamed. As well, they might experience muscle spasms or other mobility problems.

Sudden Jerky Movements While Sleeping or Awake

The sacroiliac joints play a prominent role in supporting other joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. As such, when you have Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome, you might experience sudden jerky movements while you are asleep or awake.

Tingling Sensation or Numbness in the Legs or Toes

Sudden tingling or numbness in the legs or toes may also be a sign of SI Joint syndrome. These types of discomfort is often caused by sciatic nerve irritation or pressure from the sacroiliac joint.

Common Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome

There are several conditions that can cause Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome. Some of these conditions include:

Osteoarthritis

The breakdown of cartilage in the joints is known as osteoarthritis. Over time, this condition can become very painful for individuals and can make walking or moving around extremely difficult. There are different types of arthritis, but most often, people experience symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition in which pain is felt in multiple parts of one’s body, including the sacroiliac region. The pain being experienced can radiate throughout the legs, hips, feet, lower back, or upper buttocks area as well.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it has been reported that specific genes are most likely involved. Hence, this is one reason why women are more likely than men to develop this condition.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

People with lumbar spinal stenosis may experience leg pain while walking. This is due to the fact that their nerves are being compressed at the spine level. Lumbar spinal stenosis is usually caused by abnormal growth or a herniated disc in the low back area. Other causes include obesity and aging.

Hip Dislocation

A dislocated hip can also be a potential cause of sacroiliac joint syndrome. A hip dislocation can be extremely serious and should be attended to by a professional immediately. If the condition is severe, surgery might be required to realign the hips.

Sprain or Strain

Any sprain or strain of the ankles can lead to pain in the sacroiliac joints and its surrounding areas.  Spraining or straining of the ankles is often caused by falls or instances where one lands awkwardly on one’s foot.

Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you may experience pain in the sacroiliac area. This is due to the extra weight which the body has to support, as well as the increased pressure which is placed on the muscles, joints, and bones of the pelvic region.

Gouty Arthritis

Gouty arthritis occurs when uric acid crystals form within the joints of one’s body. Among other places, these crystals can be found in the sacroiliac area of the hips and lower back. Gouty Arthritis is often caused by an unhealthy diet that contains too much animal protein, by being overweight for extended periods of time, or by constant dehydration.

Those that are afflicted with gouty arthritis often experience severe pain throughout their affected joints or muscles – including those within the the hips, low back, and sacroiliac region.

Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome

Sacroiliac joint syndrome is a condition that can be treated with both surgical and non-surgical methods. Depending on its severity, treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome  can range from simply taking painkillers to undergoing surgery.

Medication

Oftentimes, doctors will prescribe painkillers for Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome. Patients diagnosed with this condition will usually take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers, and even more potent opioid-based drugs to help cope with the pain they feel. As well, muscle relaxants may be prescribed in order to alleviate lower back tension.

Surgery

Surgery involving the sacroiliac joint may sometimes include fusing it using metal plates and screws. This procedure consists of making an incision near the hip area of a patient in order to access the joint and tissues surrounding it. If you are considering surgery as a way to treat Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome, you should consult a doctor about trying non-surgical methods first before undergoing more invasive treatment options.

Physical Therapy

Individuals who are diagnosed with Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome usually benefit from physical therapy regimens consisting of exercises which help to increase strength, stability, and flexibility throughout the body’s core region. The stronger your core muscles are, the more stable your hips will be, thus decreasing the amount of pressure which is applied to the sacroiliac area.

Exercise Options for Managing Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome

There are several exercises you can do at home to alleviate the symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome. They are as follows:

Knee Roll-Outs

Begin by laying down flat on your stomach. Bend one knee up towards your chest while keeping the other leg straight out on the ground. Slowly roll out your bent knee side to side. You can also lift on your extended leg’s toes so that you are using your calf to help keep your balance as you move your leg back and forth.

Stretches for Hip Flexors/Psoas

The hip flexor, also known as the psoas, can be a major factor in how much pain you feel through your hips and lower back. This is because your hip flexors are attached to your sacroiliac joint area, and can cause increased sensitivity or discomfort when its surrounding muscles are tight.

To stretch your hip flexors, start by laying on your back with one knee bent up towards your chest. Then, lean over towards that leg until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip (where groin meets leg). Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, and then switch sides. Repeat this stretch  as often as needed throughout the day to help alleviate the pain which is associated with Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome.

Walking

Going for a walk at least three times per week can do wonders in alleviating the symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome. By going for walks regularly, you will be able to reduce the amount of stiffness and pain being felt throughout your hips, and also maintain a healthy weight, which can mitigate the long-term effects of Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome.

Resting

Rest is essential when trying to heal from Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome and to ensure that the muscles surrounding your pelvic area can function at an optimal level. By restricting activity and staying off your feet as much as possible when having an episode of pain, you will speed up the healing process. While it may be difficult to completely restrict activity in your daily life, taking short breaks when needed can make a big difference in how long it takes to recover from this Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome.

Hip Abductor Stretches

Hip abductor stretches are great for alleviating tension which is felt in the hip area. Begin these exercises  by standing up straight with your feet together. Slowly take a comprehensive step out to one side, making sure that you have enough room to come down towards the floor without having to worry about hitting anything or placing your knee into a potentially painful position. Keep your upper body tall and straight while allowing your hips to bend over towards the ground, such that you can feel the tension in the outer hip area of whichever leg you stepped out with. If you are struggling to keep your balance, hold onto something sturdy in front of you for support. You want to maintain a 90-degree angle at the knee during this stretch, and be sure not to let it drop below that level as it will put more pressure on your joints and back.

Conclusion

Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome is a condition that requires one to be proactive in its treatment and not just settle for painkillers or other remedies that don’t address the root problem. By partaking in regular exercises which target the sacroiliac joints and its surrounding areas (such as the ones listed above), individuals could find relief from their symptoms, while also helping to prevent future episodes of this condition once it has been adequately treated.

The leading causes for Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome is typically poor posture, injury, strenuous activity, and pregnancy.  If you are experiencing symptoms associated with Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome, make sure to seek help from a medical professional promptly, such that he or she could pinpoint the cause of the issue and to prescribe an effective treatment plan.

Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome does not have to be complicated, invasive, nor overwhelming. When treatment is initiated timely and followed through,  patients often experience better overall health and begin feeling like their normal self again within no time.

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