Sacroiliac Joint Pain

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What is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

The sacroiliac joint or SI Joint is a set of 2 joints in the pelvis (one on the left and one on the right), between the sacrum and the ilium (see the diagram). These joints are joined by strong ligaments (ligaments join bone to bone).

There is debate about the amount of movement between the sacrum and the ilium at these joints (it is estimated to vary between 2 to 18 degrees of movement).


Causes of pain, inflammation and change in the SI Joints:

As we age, the joint characteristics can change. For women in particular, hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy and breast-feeding can affect the stability of the ligaments supporting the SI Joint. During pregnancy, female hormones are released that allow the connective tissues in the body to relax to allow the pelvis to stretch enough during the delivery. This can result in changes to the SI Joints, making them overly mobile. Over time, these changes can lead to wear and tear arthritic changes in the joints.

Other causes of pain, inflammation and change in the SI Joints can include muscle imbalance or a trauma such as a fall on the buttocks.

Signs and Symptoms:

Can include:

  • Dull low back pain or stiffness made worse/sharp while moving from a seated position to standing or lifting the knee towards the chest eg whilst climbing the stairs. Prolonged sitting or prolonged walking can also aggravate the pain.
  • Pain can be one-sided or occur on both sides.
  • The pain can spread when severe, to the hip, groin, buttock, back of thigh or down the leg, but rarely past the knee.


Treatment: what can be done to help?

Pain relief and joint protection:

Managing inflammation is needed in the early stages of treatment, this can be achieved with ice therapy and techniques/exercises that off-load the inflamed structures. Your GP may also recommend a short course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. Physiotherapy will help through a range of techniques such as ice, electro-therapy (such as laser), acupuncture, soft tissue massage or taping techniques.

Restoring pain-free range of movement and strength:

During this phase we can help you work on pain-free pelvic alignment, muscle strength and endurance and balance/walking patterns, working on lower abdominal and hip muscles which help to control and stabilize your SI Joints.

Restoring full pain-free function:

Each person will have differing demands for their joints depending on occupation and hobbies so individual treatment goals will vary. We can help you with a graded return to match your demands.

Longer-term self-management:

This will again, vary from individual to individual but we will aim to encourage you to maintain a regular abdominal and hip stability programme for longer-term self-management to reduce the chance of a return of pain.

Some useful back stretches for low back pain see below, however, seek advice from us before starting on a programme of exercise.


How can we help you at Physiotherapy Bangor?

We provide a wide range of physiotherapy and massage treatments targeted at the management of sacroiliac joint pain and its symptoms.

Further Information

We hope to see you soon at Physiotherapy and Massage | Bangor Clinic!

Call 07779363613 or click here to request an appointment


Kate Hayes

Author: Kate Hayes

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