Sometimes you feel a sharp pain in your lower back when you try to stand up from a seated position. This pain may shoot through your buttock, hip or down the back of your thigh. These symptoms could point to degenerative hip disease, hip bursitis, lumbar disc herniation or a pinched nerve. However, it could also mean that there is sacroiliac joint dysfunction leading to pain.
What Is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?
The sacroiliac (SI) joint is at the pelvis. This joint is very strong, and it is the weight-bearing joint that connects the sacrum to the pelvis. The sacroiliac joint is reinforced with the tough ligament surrounding it.
SI joints are located on both sides of the sacrum. Both joints work together, acting as a shock absorber for the spine, and also transferring force to the upper body. The sacroiliac joint can be diseased or injured just like every other joint in the body. As a result, it can become inflamed and unstable, causing limited mobility and pain.
Causes Of Sacroiliac Joint Inflammation
Young and middle-aged women are those who are typically affected by sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Although it affects men and older women, it is rare. Health practitioners have not yet ascertained how sacroiliac joint pain is generated, but it is believed that it is a result of a change in normal motion of the joint. This can happen due to:
- Hypomobility (little movement or fixation): Hypomobility can cause sacroiliac joint pain to reside in the buttocks or the lower back. This may radiate in the back of the thigh, down one leg. Usually, it does not get to the knee, but it does reach the foot and ankle sometimes.
- Hypermobility (too much movement or instability): Hypermobility can also cause sacroiliac joint pain to reside in the lower back. This pain can be felt in the hip or both hips. Sometimes it radiates into the groin.
Chiropractic Procedures For Treating Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Chiropractic procedures like adjustments or spinal manipulation are a non-surgical, non-invasive, natural and safe treatment option for sacroiliac joint pain. The effectiveness of chiropractic care in easing this pain can be achieved through the following procedures:
1. Gentle Chiropractic Technique
Patients with buttock or lower back pain due to sacroiliac joint dysfunction may prefer the gentle chiropractic treatment technique instead of a common spinal manipulation. The gentle technique treatment is a less forceful version of spinal manipulation. This low-velocity manipulation allows the joint to still be within its passive range of motion.
The most common gentle chiropractic techniques are:
- Gravity traction: This type of gentle technique uses adjusting blocks, aka padded blocks, which vary in size and shape and are placed strategically under the body. The chiropractor can gently and slowly reposition the sacroiliac joint with the patient lying face down. Rather than solely relying on force, the treatment employs gravity.
- Flexion-distraction technique: This technique involves the use of a specialized table that gently stretches or distracts the spine. As a result, the chiropractor slightly flexes the spine while isolating the area of the pain.
- Activator: The activator is a specialized adjusting tool. A spring-loaded instrument, the activator is used during adjustments. It specifically targets locations along the spine with low-force impulses.
- The “drop” approach: The “drop” approach involves the use of a special chiropractic table. There are sections on this table that can be raised and dropped simultaneously with the thrust. This allows gravity to help with the adjustments
2. Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Muscle relaxation techniques are commonly applied during the process of gentle chiropractic treatments. This helps reduce excessive strain on the sacroiliac joint that occurs due to an overly tight muscle.
The muscles that this chiropractic care covers may include TFL (the muscle at the outer part of the thigh), abductors (four of the muscles from the pelvis to either the knee or the bone), hamstrings and the piriformis. Some other forms of chiropractic care for tight muscles may include the use of massage and hot packs.
Therapeutic massage helps relax overly tight muscles. Moreover, massage aids the flow of blood to the joint, which in turn promotes healing. Hot packs on their own may be used to relax or warm up tight muscles before chiropractic adjustment is performed.
3. Muscle Strengthening Techniques
Stabilizing the sacroiliac joint is important to the health of the whole body in general. This can be achieved through the strengthening of the muscles in the core of the body. Although some of the body’s core muscles are exercised daily, it is difficult working the back and stomach muscles. With chiropractic treatment, special exercises are designed to help strengthen weak muscles.
An excellent tool for strengthening weak muscles is an exercise ball. The body becomes responsive to the instability of the ball in order to be in a balanced position. More muscles are engaged when using an exercise ball than when exercising the body on a stable surface.
4. Adjunctive Therapy
A chiropractor may also recommend adjunctive therapy to help ease sacroiliac joint pain. The goal of adjunctive therapy is to reduce the patient’s pain. It is also helpful in improving function and ensuring rehabilitation so that it becomes less likely for the pain to return.
Too little or too much movement of the sacroiliac joint causes pain. Because of this, the muscles that surround the joint may find chiropractic care helpful in relaxing or strengthening the muscles.
Sacroiliac joint pain can affect your health. You should see a chiropractor when you notice symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Call Thrive Chiropractic Health Center at 904-683-9397 to make an appointment to be seen at our office in Jacksonville, Florida.