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Have you been facing pain and numbness on your upper back, buttocks, or side of the thigh during your pregnancy? Chances are you have sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Most younger and mid-aged women are likely to experience sacroiliac joint problems. And sacroiliac joint dysfunction may be even more prevalent if you are pregnant or have recently given birth.
In this blog, we have broken down everything — from what is sacroiliac joint dysfunction, what causes it, the symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and which exercises will help you relieve it.
What is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?
Sacroiliac joints are located where your lower spine and pelvis converge. The sacroiliac joints’ main role is to cushion the impact from the upper torso to the lower (legs and pelvis).
However, this joint might become inflamed in the case of sacroiliitis. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction may radiate along one or both limbs and originate in the glutes or lower spine.
The sacroiliac joint’s hyper or hypomobility or misalignment are the usual causes of it. For 15% to 30% of persons with chronic low back pain, the sacroiliac joint condition is a prominent cause of discomfort.
Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
The pelvis may feel unstable and experience discomfort if the sacroiliac joint is very mobile (hypermobile or unstable). Usually, one side of the low back or buttocks will have discomfort, and it may also spread down the back of the thigh (similar to sciatica pain).
The following are the main sources of sacroiliac joint dysfunction:
- Muscle tension, discomfort, and immobility may result from hypomobility or fixation, which is too little movement.
- Excessive movement can cause pain in the hip, lower back, or groin.
Other causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction may include:
- Arthritis: Sacroiliac joints may experience osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear arthritis), as well as ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory form of arthritis that involves the backbone.
- Injury: Your sacroiliac joints can be harmed by a quick impact, like a fall or a car accident.
- Pregnancy: To allow for birthing, the sacroiliac joints must relax and stretch. Pregnancy can place extra stress on these bones and modify their stride, which might result in abnormal wear.
- Infection: The sacroiliac joint may occasionally get infected.
- Sacroiliitis: Pelvic discomfort and stiffness can also result from sacroiliitis, an inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. Inflammation in the sacroiliac joint may be brought on by dysfunction or coexist with normal joint function due to rheumatoid disease, an infection, or another reason.
Note: Sacroiliitis and sacroiliac joint dysfunction are not the same things.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be brought on by unusual mobility or mild mispositioning of the sacroiliac joint. Whereas, on the other hand, sacroiliitis is unique to an inflammatory process existing in the sacroiliac joint and the pain felt is a direct result of those inflammatory processes.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Symptoms
It might be challenging to separate sacroiliac joint dysfunction symptoms from other forms of low back pain. This is why sacroiliac joint dysfunction is so challenging to diagnose.
The most typical symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction are as follows:
- A sciatic-like pain that feels hot, intense, and stabbing in the buttocks or at the backs of your thighs and may be accompanied by tingling and numbness. The symptoms of sciatica-like sacroiliac joint dysfunction may occasionally extend under your knee.
- Increased discomfort while exerting additional strain on your sacroiliac joint, such as when jogging, ascending stairs, laying on a side, or placing weight there.
- Lower back discomfort that can be minor to intense and feels numb and achy. Although lower back discomfort is often only experienced on a side, it occasionally affects both sides.
- Pelvic or lower back instability can make it feel as though the pelvis will give way or buckle while walking, standing, or sitting down.
- The buttocks, upper back, or side of the thigh are some of the most typical locations to have SI joint pain. Pain is normally only felt on one side, however, it can occasionally be felt on both.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Treatment
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction treatments mainly concentrate on reducing discomfort and regaining the joint’s natural range of motion. The majority of SI joint pain situations may be properly treated without surgery.
Let us take a look at the three types of treatments for sacroiliac joint dysfunction:
- Initial Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Exercises
- Surgical Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Initial Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
- Rest: One to two days of relaxation may be recommended. Resting for more than a few days is not advised since it can intensify stiffness, aggravate discomfort, and lead to overall relapse.
- Cold compress: Ice helps decrease swelling and ease pain and discomfort when administered to the pelvis and low back. By easing muscle tension or spasms, heat administered around the joint may aid in pain relief.
- Medication for pain: For mild to moderate pain treatment, over-the-counter painkillers (like acetaminophen), as well as anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such naproxen or ibuprofen), might be suggested. During instances of really intense, acute pain, prescription drugs such as narcotic painkillers or muscle relaxants may be utilized.
Note: Due to their great potential for addiction and potentially harmful side effects, these drugs should only be taken with extreme caution.
Exercises for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Physiotherapy is frequently used to treat the sacroiliac joint.
- Stretching: Stretching helps relieve hamstring, gluteus maximus, and piriformis muscular tension and cramps in the hips, lower back, and pelvis. Pain may originate from strain in these muscles brought on by sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
- Exercises: The abdominal, lateral trunk, and low back muscles can all benefit from strengthening to provide the joint with better support.
- Aerobic exercises: Aerobic exercises can stimulate blood flow and help injured tissues receive nutrients and oxygen, which can speed up the recovery process. Low-impact aerobics, such as elliptical jogging, stationary cycling, or water aerobics, may be advised to reduce discomfort during exercise.
Surgical Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Sacroiliac joint fusion surgery is the common procedure performed to treat SI joint discomfort. By fusing the ilium and sacrum, this treatment aims to totally prevent mobility at the sacroiliac joint.
In order to fuse the sacroiliac joint, screws or rods are inserted, and it’s feasible to place bone graft material there as well. Recently, less intrusive techniques have been created that shorten the healing period while improving results for pain and impairment.
The Bottom Line
Based on the underlying source of the problem, the prognosis for sacroiliac joint dysfunction varies. The ailment often gets better during the postpartum period, thus the prognosis is great when the issue is pregnancy-related.
A pelvic brace may also be recommended to help stabilize the pelvis and reduce uncomfortable motions as it heals. The usual recovery time following sacroiliac joint fusion is 3 to 6 months.