Dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint (SIJ) which is a large joint in your lower back connecting your
sacrum to your pelvis, can sometimes cause lower back and/or leg pain. Dysfunction of this joint basically means that it is not operating normally.
For decades, the sacroiliac joint was suspected as a common cause of low back and/or leg pain, although difficulty in accurate diagnostic testing has made this difficult to substantiate. Today it is estimated that the SIJ is responsible for 15% to 30% of lower back pain cases.
The primary mechanisms of SIJ dysfunction include:
Too much movement in the SIJ can cause the pelvis to feel unstable and lead to pain. Pain
from too much motion is typically felt in the lower back and/or hip and may radiate into
the groin area.
Not enough movement can cause muscle tension, pain, and may inhibit mobility. Pain is
typically felt on one side of the low back or buttocks and can radiate down the back of
the leg like sciatica pain.
SIJ dysfunction is more common in young and middle-aged women. Women who are pregnant
or have recently given birth may be more susceptible to SIJ pain.
Chiropractic treatment for SIJ dysfunction typically focus on alleviating pain and restoring
normal motion in the joint. Most cases of SI joint pain are effectively managed using
Chiropractic care without the need for a referral for more tests.
Initial treatment for SIJ pain dysfunction includes:
Brief rest period. A rest period of 1 to 2 days may be advised. Resting for longer than a
couple days is not recommended, as doing so may worsen stiffness and cause increased
pain and generalized weakness.
Applying ice or heat. Ice applied to the low back and pelvis can reduce inflammation and
alleviate pain and discomfort. Later on, heat applied around the joint may help relieve
pain by reducing muscle tension or spasms.
Manual manipulation. Manual manipulation provided can be highly effective if sacroiliac
joint pain is caused by too little movement. This consists of physical adjustments applied
to the SI joint, and lower back region with the goal of restoring normal movement in the
Supports or braces. When the SI joint is not moving enough, a pelvic brace can be
wrapped around the waist and pulled snugly to stabilize the area. A pelvic brace is about
the size of a wide belt and can be helpful when the joint is inflamed and painful.
There is no single approach to managing SI joint pain that will work for everyone. A
combination of treatment as determined by your Chiropractor is usually necessary for
effective pain relief.