The sacroiliac (SI) joints are located between the hips with one on each side of the sacrum. The SI joints connect the spine to the hips. If you have sacroiliac, hip, and leg pain, you have probably injured one of your SI joints.
When you are healthy, the ligaments in the SI joint are strong and don’t allow much movement, if any. As you age, there is a degree of degeneration in the ligaments that can weaken the SI joints. The SI joints are fluid-filled with some of the spinal nerves unattached. If the degeneration makes it so you cannot move properly, the nerve endings themselves can cause chronic pain.
It is estimated that as many as 10 million people may suffer from SI joint issues each year.
What are the signs and symptoms of SI joint injuries?
Signs and symptoms of SI joint injury include pain that begins in the low back, radiates into the hips, and can go down into the thigh. The pain is usually experienced on only one side, but it is possible to feel it on both sides. Your legs might feel weak as well.
Any sort of movement, such as walking, climbing stairs, sitting, or standing can aggravate the pain. Laying on the affected side may also cause pain. The pain can range from mild to severe. The patient may also feel numbness in the region.
You should see a doctor if you experience any pain of this kind.
An SI joint injury can be the result of degeneration, pregnancy, childbirth, an auto accident, fall, or other types of injury. Symptoms can also come from being unbalanced such as when you have hurt your leg and one leg is in an orthopedic boot. It can also come from your spine being out of alignment.
How are SI injuries diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose your SI injury through a physical examination that may include range of motion testing. Your doctor might ask you to move in certain ways, like lifting one leg.
The diagnosis might need to be confirmed by x-ray, MRI or CT scan. An injection is often done as well.
What are the treatment options for SI injuries?
Nonsurgical treatment is preferred whenever possible. This treatment can include physical therapy, stretching exercises, and chiropractic adjustment of the lower back and SI area. A heating pad or ice pack might reduce your pain.
Other treatments that are effective for SI injuries include massage to help relax the area so that the spine can be straightened. This takes the pressure off the nerves in the SI joint.
Recovering from an SI injury can take as little as a few days or as long as several weeks. Each case is different from every other. If the injury is severe, you may be referred for surgery.
ARE THERE ANY ACTIVITIES THAT I SHOULD AVOID WHILE I’M RECOVERING?
You should avoid any exercises that could cause you to twist your body. You should also avoid exercises or stretches that need to be done while you are only standing on one leg. Climbing a flight of stairs or carrying something heavy should also be avoided.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF I KEEP REINJURING MY SI JOINT?
If you keep reinjuring your SI joints, you may have to have a surgical procedure to stabilize and strengthen the joint by attaching it to the ileum portion of the pelvis.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT I CAN DO REGULARLY TO AVOID REINJURY?
Regular massage and following up with your chiropractor as a maintenance regimen can help you avoid reinjuring the SI joint. Your chiropractor will notice if your SI joints start moving in an unhealthy manner through regular check-ups.