Updated: Apr 11
Pain in the sacroiliac joint, often called the SI joint, can be excruciating, and it can feel like there is no relief in sight. That searing pain that can radiate from your lower back all the way down to your legs can be hard to ignore and even harder to work through.
Fortunately, by strengthening the core and stabilizing the hips, SI joint pain can become a thing of the past. Let’s talk about the causes of SI joint pain and about some exercises that can help.
What is SI Joint Pain and What Causes It?
SI joint pain is a condition that causes mild to severe pain in the lower back and hip. This is caused by inflammation of the SI joint, the area between the sacrum at the bottom of the spine, and the ilium bones that are located in the pelvis.
This can cause lower back pain, difficulty standing or walking, and stiffness in the lower back and hips. The pain can radiate to the buttocks, groin, and even all the way down your legs and can be aggravated by activities that put stress on the SI joint, such as walking, jogging, running, climbing stairs, or bending at the waist.
The pain in the SI joint is usually caused by arthritis, injury, or even pregnancy. The most common injuries that can cause damage to the SI joint are car accidents, falls, or high-impact contact sports. Arthritis pain in the SI joint can be caused by the high amount of wear and tear that the pelvis endures and is much more prevalent in the older population. Pregnancy can place extra weight on the SI joint, leading to instability and pain.
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How is Pain in the SI Joint Treated?
Treatment of sacroiliac joint pain depends on the severity of the injury and the cause of the pain and ranges from rest at home to joint replacement surgery.
If you are suffering from SI joint pain, resting your body should be your top priority. Since most SI joint pain is caused by muscle strain or overuse, it is important to let the joint rest so it can fully recover. This can include taking a few days or weeks off from physical activity or any activity that causes SI joint pain.
Physical therapy is another great option for treating joint pain in the SI joint. Seeing a physical therapist can help with reducing inflammation and restoring the normal range of motion and joint function. Physical therapists can also teach you stretches and exercises that can safely strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the SI joint and reduce pain.
Medication can also be taken to reduce SI joint pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, often referred to as NSAIDs, can be purchased over the counter and is effective at reducing pain and inflammation. If over-the-counter medications are not effective enough, a corticosteroid injection shot may be required to manage the pain and inflammation.
If the case of SI joint is severe, surgery may be required to restore stability to the joint and reduce the pain. SI joint surgery is considered a minimally invasive procedure that is recommended when other interventions have not worked.
Recovery from acute SI joint pain usually takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal. If the pain lasts for longer than three months, it is considered to be chronic and a healthcare provider should be consulted.
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Stretches to Reduce SI Joint Pain
SI joint pain can definitely put a damper on your physical activities but thankfully there are ways you can take care of it at home with a few stretches. Here are some that we recommend to take care of your SI joint pain.
While lying down on your stomach, keep your legs straight and behind you. Clench and squeeze your butt muscles together while keeping your core tight. Try to hold this for five seconds at a time and if possible, perform three sets of ten repetitions.
Bridge pose is a great stretch for your entire back, especially your lower back. Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor with both your arms and hands facing palms down on the floor. Bring your feet close enough to your glutes so that you can just touch your heels with your finger tips.
While squeezing your butt muscles tightly, slowly raise your lower back and hips from the floor until your body is forming a straight line. Hold this position for six to eight seconds and slowly lower your hips back down to the floor. Repeat this movement ten times.
Stand while holding onto a doorway or other stable and sturdy object that does not move, grab your ankle with the hand from the opposite side and slowly pull the heel of your foot towards your buttocks. Stretch each side for thirty seconds at a time.
Now that you know how to manage your SI joint pain, you can start slowly but surely getting back on your feet. We can’t wait to see you back out there again.