SI Joint Dysfunction

What is The SI Joint?

The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) connects the spine to the pelvis.  There are two SI joints, one on each side of the spine/pelvis.  They are located in the back of the pelvis.  The SI joints have limited movement and do not move at all in some people. The SI joint is typically a very stable joint which is reinforced by large ligaments. The weight of the body is transferred through the SI joints.  

SI Joint dysfunctionImage of a woman with SI Joint Pain 

What is SI Joint Dysfunction?

The quick answer is that SI joint dysfunction is pain and abnormal movement of the SI joint.  The SI joint contains large amounts of pain receptors, so even mild movement issues may cause significant amounts of pain.  SI Joint dysfunction can cause sciatica pain as well.  

How Does SI Joint Dysfunction Happen?

SI Joint Dysfunction can occur after trauma such as a car accident or a fall.  Because the SI joint is typically very stable and strong, other structures may be injured before the SI joint is injured.  During pregnancy, the woman’s body releases hormones to relax the ligaments around the SI joints, so that the pelvis can expand for the birthing process.  During this period, pregnant women may be more likely to develop a dysfunction in the SI joint.

How do I Know If I Have SI Joint Dysfunction?

True SI Joint dysfunction is not as common as pain from the lumbar spine, but some studies suggest that the SI joint may be involved about 30% of the time with low back pain.  It is difficult to self diagnose SI Joint dysfunction because it is positioned very close to the lowest lumbar facet joint.  The SI joint is commonly blamed for pain that is really originating in the lumbar spine.  SI joint pain may also occur with lower back and hip pain together with knee pain.  

A physician or physical therapist may perform specific special tests to attempt to differentiate lumbar and SI joint dysfunction but at times, injections or imaging studies are required.

If you want to learn more about the anatomy of the spine, please go to this VIDEO.

SI Joint ImageSI Joint Image

What is the Remedy for SI Joint Dysfunction?

SI joint dysfunction can be very painful.  Initially, anti-inflammatory medications and Ice may be beneficial.  If pain continues, it may be time to see a physician and begin physical therapy.  A physical therapist will evaluate the area and may incorporate manual therapy techniques and stabilization exercises to improve the function of the joint.  If the SI joint is unstable or hypermobile, an SI belt may by recommended to provide external support for the SI joints.  

If pain does not improve with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory injections inside the joint may help decrease the pain and allow movement to return to normal.  To schedule physical therapy at JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045

In severe cases, an SI Joint fusion surgery may be necessary to lock the joint into position and hopefully decrease the pain from the SI joint.  

The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute has a dedicated spine team ready to help with SI Joint Dysfunction.  With Physicians, Surgeons, and Physical Therapists with decades of experience to provide all aspects of treatment for the SI Joint, JOI has the answers for you!   Whether you are a Jacksonville Jaguar or an Average Joe...We’ll treat you like a pro!

By: Ehren Allen, PT, Certified Manual Therapist

To schedule an appointment or Telemedicine visit, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online or click below. 

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