What is sacroiliac joint pain
The Sacro Iliac (SI) joints connect the spine to the pelvis. The sacrum and the iliac bones (ileum) are held together by a collection of strong ligaments. There is relatively little motion at the SI joints. As with most other joints in the body, the SI joints have a cartilage layer covering the bone.
The cartilage allows for some movement and acts as a shock absorber between the bones. When this cartilage is damaged or worn away, the bones begin to rub on each other, and degenerative arthritis(osteoarthritis) occurs. This is the most common cause of SI joint dysfunction.
Degenerative arthritis occurs commonly in the SI joints, just like other weight-bearing joints of the body.
Another common cause of SI joint dysfunction is pregnancy. During pregnancy, hormones are released in the woman's body that allows ligaments to relax. This prepares the body for childbirth. Relaxation of the ligaments holding the SI joints together allows for increased motion in the joints and can lead to increased stresses and abnormal wear.
The additional weight and walking pattern (altered gait) associated with pregnancy also places additional stress on the SI joints.
Any condition that alters the normal walking pattern places increased stress on the SI joints. This could include a leg length discrepancy (one leg longer than the other), or pain in the hip, knee, ankle, or foot.
Patients with severe pain in the lower extremity often develop problems with either the lower back (lumbar spine) or SI joints. In most cases if the underlying problem is treated, the associated lumbar spine or SI joint dysfunction will also improve.
There are many disorders that affect the joints of the body that can also cause inflammation in the SI joints. These include gout, rheumatoid arthritis,psoriasis, and ankylosing spondylitis. These are all various forms of arthritis that can affect all joints.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that always affects the SI joints. It can lead to stiffness and severe pain in the SI joints. As the disease process continues, the SI joints fuse together and have no further motion. Once this occurs, there is no further pain associated with the SI joints.
The most common symptom of SI joint dysfunction is pain. Patients often experience pain in the lower back or the back of the hips. Pain may also be present in the groin and thighs. In many cases, it can be difficult to determine the exact source of the pain.
Suggestions for treating sacroiliac joint pain
Physical therapy such as osteopathy and remedial massage can be very helpful. Pain in the SI joint is often related to either too much motion or not enough motion in the joint. An osteopath can teach various stretching or stabilizing exercises that can help reduce the pain. Options to stabilise the SI joints include yoga, and Clinical Pilates.
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