By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson
The pelvis is made up of three bones; two ilium (hip bones) and one sacrum, and located at the back of the pelvis is two sacroiliac joints (SIJ) which connect these bones together. These joints, like many others in the body, are heavily supported by ligaments. Just like spraining an ankle ligament or joint you can sprain your sacroiliac joint. The SIJ’s play a major role in weight bearing and in the mechanism of walking.
Sacroilitis and sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD) are other names given to pain related to the SIJ’s. Common causes of SIJ pain include trauma (injury or repetitive micro-trauma) or hypermobility and instability. Pregnant women often complain of SIJ pain.
What are the signs & symptoms of a Sacroiliac Joint Sprain?
The signs and symptoms relating to a Sacroiliac Joint Sprain include:
- One sided low back, hip, pelvic or groin pain
- Low back stiffness
- Pain aggravated when climbing stairs or standing from a seated/lying position
What can I do ‘right now’ to help with my Sacroiliac Joint Sprain?
If you are experiencing a Sacroiliac Joint Sprain, we want to allow the structures which have been overstretched and inflamed an opportunity to heal. Aggravation of sprained structures will only prolong healing times, so you should try to Avoid heavy lifting, squatting, lunging, hopping and jumping activities. Bed rest is also generally not recommended for sacroiliac pain. Instead, gentle motion (such as walking) should be performed to avoid furthering stiffening of the joint without aggravating it.
After acute injury, applying ice to the region is encouraged for the first 24-48 hours at 20 minute intervals. Always avoid direct skin contact with ice using a towel between skin and ice/icepack. After 48 hours, heat-pack application is encouraged to promote blood-flow and repair at the joint and to relax muscles guarding around the region.
Gentle stretching through the buttock and hip flexor region may be useful in decreasing muscular guarding and extra strain placed on the effected joint. Your health professional will be able to show you specific techniques which will work in your best interest.
SIJ braces or belts can help in reducing pain symptoms by pushing joint surfaces together/allowing less movement through the joint. Ask your health professional if this technique is advised for you.
When should I see a health professional for a Sacroiliac Joint Sprain?
- Increasing pain intensity
- Increasing joint stiffness
- Increasing difficulty in performing daily activities
- Symptoms referral below the buttock
For more information on Sacroiliac Joint Sprains, watch the video below by Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson, or click here.
What will a health practitioner do to help with a Sacroiliac Joint Sprain?
In your first appointment, your health professional will take your history and examine the affected area to try to determine the cause of your pain by testing your range of motion, muscular tightness, muscular activation patterns and perform provocative tests. They will aim to reproduce you pain and symptoms at the SIJ and rule out other structures which could potentially be contributing to similar symptomology.
Hands of treatment will aim to decompress the joint, address muscular guarding, restore range of motion & leg length disturbances to normal. Compensation patterns throughout the spine and other effected regions will also be addressed.
Exercise rehabilitation or Pilates are often prescribed after such an injury, aiming to correct muscular activation patterns and increase strength. Your health professional will aim to reduce your pain symptoms as soon as possible, but wants to teach you the tools to avoid reinjuring your SIJ again.
For more information on conditions of the Lumbopelvic region, click on the following links: