What is the sacroiliac joint (SI jt)?

The sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is the area in your pelvis where the sacrum (the bone directly under your spine) and iliac bones come together.  The primary role of the SI jts are to act as shock absorbers, especially to prevent further impact on your spine during walking or running.  This is accomplished through nutation and counter nutation of the sacrum.  Nutation – occurs as the sacrum moves anteriorly and inferiorly while the coccyx (tailbone) moves posteriorly relative to the ilium.  Counternutation – occurs as the sacrum moves posteriorly and superiorly while the coccyx moves anteriorly relative to the ilium.  These coupled movements are what allows shock absorption to occur.  Additionally, the SI joint is an extremely stable joint held together by strong ligaments and surrounded by a number of strong muscles such as the erector spinae, psoas, quadratus lumborum, piriformis, abdominal obliques, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings.  Any dysfunction occurring at the si joint can cause issues to occur in these muscle groups.

Despite how stable the SI joints are, this region is definitely susceptible to being thrown out of alignment.  As a matter of fact, sacroiliac subluxations (misaligned areas in the spine or hips that are hypomobile/restricted and have a negative affect on one’s nervous system) are quite common.  Falls, missteps, traumas and accidents are a few things that can affect the SI region.  Old injuries can also result in your body compensating which can later result in your SI joint being misaligned. For instance, an ankle sprain may cause you to compensate your gait or posture in order to protect that ankle from further injury.  As a result, your sacroiliac joint can be affected which can lead to other challenges.

How do you know if you have sacroiliac issues?

Here are a few symptoms and causes of SI subluxations:

  • Low-back pain, typically at the belt line, and pain radiating into the buttock or thigh.
  • Most often, SI subluxations are caused by trauma. For example, rotation of the joint when lifting or participating in some vigorous activity may cause tears in small ligaments surrounding the joint, resulting in pain and dysfunction.
  • Difficulty walking or standing is often an indicator of SI joint issues.
  • The risk of SI subluxations may also increase with true and apparent leg-length inequality, abnormalities in gait and prolonged exercise.
  • Pregnant women may suffer from SJD because of hormone-induced relaxation of the pelvic ligaments during the third trimester, weight gain and increased curvature of the lumbar spine.

How to address pain related to sacroiliac subluxations?

Retraining incorrect movement patterns via exercise, stretching and mobilization (in regards to this article mobilization= myofascial release and band work).  My suggestion would be to check out these guys.  I work out at Crossfit Humanity in San Diego and fully trust them to do a good job.  Proper form during exercise is crucial in preventing future injuries.  However that is only part of the solution.  It’s as if you have a cavity and to address it all you do is continue to floss and brush your teeth. Addressing the alignment in the pelvis is even more crucial than simple rehabilitation.  Both of which are great things to do, however it doesn’t fix the underlying cause.  Chiropractors are trained in detecting these misalignments and correcting them.

Dr. Palmes is a family chiropractor in Scripps Ranch. He services Scripps Ranch, Mira Mesa, Poway, Sabre Springs, Rancho Penasquitos, Miramar, Rancho Bernardo and San Diego county. He works with kids, pregnant women, men, and women be the best version of themselves so they can have a greater impact on the world.

If this is something that you or someone you know suffers from, don’t hesitate to get it evaluated!  Call (619) 758-5820 for an appointment or leave me a comment.

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