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SI Joint Dysfunction


What is the SI Joint?


If you look at the pelvis from the back, it looks a bit like 2 Mickey Mouse ears, with home plate in between. Home plate” is the Sacrum (that’s the “S”) and the “Mickey Mouse ears” are bones called the Ilium (which is the “I”). Where they meet is called the sacroiliac joint, or SI joint. The SI joint is a “brake point” that slows down the weight and force of gravity from being transferred between your upper body and legs. It is an essentially a point of shock absorption. The SI joint works with other parts of the hip to keep movements like walking and running from directly impacting the spine.

What causes SI Joint Pain?

The SI joint takes a lot of pounding: you’ve done a lot of walking, running, turning over, and lifting in your life! Just like any other joint in the body, it can degenerate from the joint itself moving too little, or moving too much. A lot of times, it’s not the joint itself, it’s how you’re using it. Around the joint, there are a lot of muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments that are supposed to help keep it stable, and moving evenly.

If they are not being used evenly, and one side is working harder than the other for a long period of time, it will become a pain in the butt (literally). That pain can go up to the beltline, up to the bottom of your rib cage, or it can go down into the back of the thighs. It usually stays above the knee, but it can go all the way down to the foot.

You could feel it when:

  • Rolling over

  • Standing up

  • Lifting

  • Running

  • Walking

  • Sleeping on the involved side.


What does SI Joint Dysfunction feel like?

Again, this can be caused by either too much movement or too little movement in the joint, as it is trying to protect the spine. You may feel pain in the low back and/or the butt & hip that may go into the groin area. When caused by too little movement, the pain is typically felt on one side.

Common complaints from patients suffering from SI joint pain may include:

  • Low back pain

  • Pain in your leg (anywhere from your thigh, down to your toes)

  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your leg

  • Pelvis/butt pain

  • Hip/groin pain

  • Feeling like your leg is going to give out (it feels unstable)

  • Can’t get to sleep, or it wakes you up

  • The longer you sit, the more it hurts (can’t sit for too long)

  • Pain when standing up from seated.

Traditional treatment for SI Joint Dysfunction:


Typical treatment for an SI joint injury is usually some combination of rest and icing, pain medication, physical therapy, and joint injections. Though many doctors are so busy that they will call it “Sciatica,” and send you on your way. SI joint pain is often overlooked because its symptoms can sometimes mimic other common conditions. This can often lead to expensive, time-consuming tests and treatments that may help with the pain but will leave the source of pain unchanged, and ready to come back, with a vengeance, later.

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