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Is Injury to Blame for Your SI Joint Pain?

Injury is a leading cause of SI (sacroiliac) joint pain. Accidents do happen. There are injuries of impact that induce trauma and repetitive injuries that create dysfunction over time. Either type of injury can impart pain to one or both of the SI joints.

Understanding Injury as a Cause of SI Joint Pain

In order to understand how injury can impact the SI joints, it is useful to take a look at where the joints are and how they are designed to perform. The sacroiliac joints form at the points where the sacrum region of the spine and the two ilium (hip) bones meet, one on the left and one on the right side of the spine. The two ilium bones are the major structures of the pelvis. The SI joints play a major role in supporting the upper body and helping to transmit motion through the hips and legs. There are several components to the SI joints, each of which is subject to pressures that can cause friction, inflammation, and long term wear and tear.

The SI joints are basically opposing bony surfaces covered by cartilage and bound together by extremely strong ligaments. By design, SI joints have a narrow range of movement. Any damage to the SI joints makes them susceptible to dysfunction and pain.

One of the primary functions of the SI joints is to act as shock absorbers for the body. The joints are designed to dissipate the mechanical loads of the upper body through the pelvis and into the legs and feet. The same function holds true as the forces come from the ground up. The best measure of success is when all things are in balance. When things are out of whack, so to speak, problems occur.

Participating in sports creates many opportunities for high impact trauma. The rigors of such actions as blocking, tackling, jumping, hitting, sliding and kicking can knock the entire musculoskeletal system out of whack, and that energy often passes through the SI joints. Serious trauma occurs outside the sports arena as well. A motor vehicle collision can create serious injury. A direct fall on the buttocks can wreak serious damage. A side blow to the pelvis can weaken SI joints. Not all trauma is high impact. Repetitive action can add up to long term wear and tear on the SI joints. Jobs that require heavy lifting will stress the SI joints. The continual pounding that serious runners experience has a cumulative effect. Health related conditions such as degenerative osteoarthritis can injure the joints and generates subsequent pain.

Injuries can produce both hypo-mobility and hyper-mobility of the SI joint. Hypo-mobility simply means low movement. The ligaments that hold the SI joints together tighten and lose elasticity. Cartilage of the SI joints can erode, bone spurs can develop, and the joints can freeze or lock up. The result is limited motion and chronic pain. This can also cause irritation to the surrounding tendons and ligaments. Hyper-mobility means high movement. The ligaments stretch out and become more elastic. This can cause undue friction within the joint, misalignment of the bones, uneven wear, and subsequent pain. There are also many nerves in proximity to the SI joints that can become irritated and inflamed.

The range of pain can vary from dull to acute. SI joint pain can express itself on either the left or right side of the lower back. SI joint dysfunction can produce pain in the buttocks, groin, and thighs as well.

Injuries are just one of the many ways the SI joints can suffer undue stress. Such stress inflames the joint, damages cartilage, increases wear and tear, and adds to the overall deterioration of mobility. If you are experiencing SI joint pain caused by injury, get in touch with a medical expert in spine health. Early diagnosis and treatment of SI joint dysfunction can slow progression of the disease, relieve low back pain, and help to restore healthy joint function.



Tips for Preventing and Managing SI Joint Pain at Home

  • Regular stretching and exercise can help prevent and ease low back pain.
  • When lifting heavy objects, use your legs for leverage, not your back.
  • Walk cautiously and wear shoes with good traction when walking on slippery surfaces.
  • When carrying something, be sure to distribute its weight evenly, not favoring one side.
  • Consult a spine specialist for severe low back pain that hasn’t resolved with conservative methods in a few weeks.

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