Your sacroiliac joint is the mechanical link on each side of your hip that connects your legs to the rest of your body. The joint has a limited but very important degree of mobility. Symptoms develop when one or both of the joints loses normal motion. When a joint becomes “restricted”, a self-perpetuating cycle of discomfort follows. Restriction causes the muscles to become overworked, leading to tightness, compression, inflammation, pain and more restriction.
Sacroiliac problems can happen as a result of repetitive strenuous activity or trauma- like a fall onto the buttocks. Other causes of sacroiliac joint problems include, poor posture, having one leg slightly longer than another, having an altered gait, having flat feet or scoliosis, or having pain somewhere else in your legs. Pregnancy is a common trigger for sacroiliac joint problems due to weight gain, gait changes and postural stress.
Sacroiliac joint problems often begin as a focal discomfort in your back just below the belt line, slightly to one side of center. Your pain can travel into your buttock or thigh. Symptoms are often worse by standing on the affected side. The pain may become more apparent when you change positions- like exiting a chair, car or bed, or during long car rides. The pain is often relieved by lying down.
To assist with your recovery, you should avoid any activity that provokes pain, like standing on the affected leg or prolonged sitting. Our office may suggest a sacroiliac support belt to help stabilize your joint.
Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.
Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.
We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.
Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.
Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.
After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.
Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition.
- Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support, such as a traditional coil spring or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses.
- Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.
Here are some tips to help you lift safely:
- Avoid lifting or flexing before you’ve had the chance to warm up your muscles (especially when you first awaken or after sitting or stooping for a period of time).
- Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
- To lift, stand close directly facing object with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Squat down by bending with your knees, not your back. Imagine a fluorescent light tube strapped to your head and hips when bending. Don’t “break” the tube with improper movements. Tuck your chin to help keep your spine aligned.
- Slowly lift by thrusting your hips forward while straightening your legs.
- Keep the object close to your body, within your powerzone” between your hips and chest. Do not twist your body, if you must turn while carrying an object, reposition your feet, not your torso.
An alternative lifting technique for smaller objects is the golfers lift. Swing one leg directly behind you. Keep your back straight while your body leans forward. Placing one hand on your thigh or a sturdy object may help.
Entering & Exiting a Vehicle
Entering and exiting your vehicle is a potential risky activity for low back pain sufferers. Follow these tips to limit problems:
- To enter the vehicle, open the door and stand with your back to the seat, legs close to the side of the vehicle. For larger vehicles, you may wish to begin by standing on the running board. Place your hands on the door and door frame to keep your movements slow and controlled then slowly lower your body into the vehicle.
- Tuck your head into the vehicle. Keep your knees close to each other, as though they have been taped together, brace your abdomen as though you are about to be punched in the stomach and pivot your body as a whole without twisting or bending at the waist. You may grasp the steering wheel with your right hand to help you pivot.
- Use a lumbar roll or other support to help maintain good posture. Position the roll slightly above your belt to support the “small of your back”. Adjust your seat so that your knees are slightly lower than your hips. Try to avoid prolonged car rides- take frequent breaks.
- Before exiting, create adequate space by pushing your vehicle seat back as far as possible and move the steering wheel up and out of the way. To exit, first scoot slightly to the door side edge of your seat, then keep your knees together and pivot with the same cautions that you used to enter the vehicle. When your feet are shoulder width apart and firmly on the ground or running board, grasp the door and door frame, lean forward, but be sure not to bend your back, as you tighten your abdominal muscles. Slowly thrust your hips forward to stand up.