Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Posted 12/17/12 by Dr. Kirk Petheram and filed under:

The boomerang-shaped sacroiliac joints are found just below the waist on either side of the spine. These joints connect the two pelvic (iliac) bones, and are surrounded by a complex set of ligaments that allow them to move freely, and which support the joints themselves. The purpose of these joints is to transmit forces from the upper body to the lower legs.

The sacroiliac joints can become sprained or inflamed, as the result of injury or trauma (such as from falls or auto accidents), or due to repetitive micro-trauma (such as prolonged bending or lifting), which causes strain to the surrounding muscles and ligaments, and over time can produce microscopic tears and scar tissue. Pregnant women are often at risk for this condition, because the hormones released to increase the laxity of the pelvic muscles can leave them more vulnerable to injury. When this occurs, the resulting condition is called sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The body reacts to the pain of this condition by causing the muscles in the area to tighten up even further, resulting in muscle spasms and even more pain.

Symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction include pain on one or both sides of the pelvis, often radiating to the buttocks and upper legs. The pain is often perceived as better after walking for some time, and worse after sitting or performing activities that involve bending over. Unlike many other lower back conditions, there is rarely a feeling of numbness, “pins and needles,” or loss of strength. The pain often seems to recede when lying down, but interestingly enough should not be treated with complete “bed rest,” because that will cause the affected ligaments to slacken and become even more weakened from disuse.

Your best option if you have been diagnosed with sacroiliac joint dysfunction or experience a number of the symptoms above is to see your chiropractor. Chiropractic care has been found to be of great benefit, both in terms of relieving immediate pain and also strengthening the muscles and ligaments that cause the condition itself.

The goal of chiropractic care when treating this disorder is to restore a normal balance between the sacrum and the iliac, and to strengthen the muscles that support the sacroiliac joints. Your chiropractor may prescribe a course of spinal adjustments to reposition the joint to its optimal position. This initial phase of the treatment continues until the pain subsides, and is often accompanied by soft tissue massage, ultrasound or electro-stimulation (to relax the tightened muscles and ligaments), or laser therapy. During and after this initial phase of the treatment, your chiropractor may recommend a period of “active rest,” meaning alternating periods of rest with beneficial activities such as walking. Gentle exercises may be prescribed, which you can do at home to speed up the healing process and strengthen the affected muscles.

The pain of sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be relieved, and by removing the structural causes of the imbalance through spinal adjustments and other therapies aimed at relaxing the tightened, strained muscles and restoring their proper flexibility and mobility, within a short time you can return to a normal state of health.

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