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What is Sacro-Iliac Joint Dysfunction?

Sacro-iliac Joint Dysfunction (SJD) is the clinical term for a collective group of signs and symptoms of pain in the lower back and sacral region. The Sacro-iliac joints are the joints that connect the wedge-shaped Sacrum to the two pelvic bones. This joint is the strongest joint in the whole body, with its specific bony shape, and strong stabilising ligaments. The main function of the Sacro-iliac joints is to be able to transmit forces from the lower limbs to the spine and upper body and vice versa. Often times, the Sacro-iliac joints can become a source of pain. The SI Joints are the cause of pain in up to 30% of low back pain cases. Symptoms typically include pain in the lower back, near the buttock region, but can also refer into the groin or hip. Severe cases may find activities such as; lunging or walking upstairs, difficult.

Sacroiliac joints

What caused my Sacro-Iliac Joint Dysfunction?

There has been much debate over what the cause of Sacro-Iliac Joint pain is. Some theories suggest that when the Sacro-iliac ligaments have been damaged or torn (through trauma or degeneration), then it can cause inflammation of the joint and be the cause of the pain. Other theories suggest that excess movement of the joint is the cause of the pain. This usually would involve trauma, such as; landing directly onto your back or buttocks, or in motor vehicle accidents. Pregnancy can also cause hyper-mobility of the Sacro-Iliac Joint. A thorough examination of your condition and your Sacro-Iliac Joint is the best way to determine the true cause of your pain.

Sacro-Iliac Joint Dysfunction and pregnancy

Pregnant women are at a greater risk of developing SJD. In order to prepare the body for birth two hormones, Relaxin and Progesterone, are produced. They will help to loosen the ligaments around the lower back, pelvis and birthing canal to accommodate pregnancy and the birth. The increased mobility at the Sacro-Iliac Joint, as well as the altered loading on the pelvis during pregnancy, is a common cause of lower back pain. Weight gain, calcium-deficiency and changes to exercise patterns also contribute to the condition at this time.

How can you help with my Sacro-Iliac Joint Dysfunction?

A detailed history, taken by your physiotherapist, of the pain and injury can determine the underlying cause of your SJD. While a physical assessment of the knee, hip, back and surrounding structures, can determine the best course of action in treating the condition. Usually, treatment will involve correcting any abnormal gait (walking) biomechanics, and strengthening/stretching muscles to reduce muscle imbalances, weakness and tightness.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Sacro-Iliac Joint Dysfunction?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate your pain, this might be walking, lunging or running you have received advice from your physiotherapist.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities.
  • For RELIEF, applying ice to the area may help to reduce some pain and inflammation in the initial stages. Be sure to wrap the icepack in a towel, and only apply for 10 minutes every 2 hours. CEASE use if you have any negative reaction.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.

As your pain settles, your physiotherapist will be able to progress you back to full function with your rehab program.

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