What Is Sacroiliac Dysfunction?

An overlooked (but very relevant) cause of lower back pain, hip or groin pain is dysfunction in the sacroiliac joints. 

The sacroiliac (SI) joints connect the pelvis and lower spine. It includes the sacrum, the bony structure above your tailbone at the base of your vertebrae (on the left and right sides) and the top part of the pelvis (ilium). 

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction describes an improper movement in this region, where the joint either moves too much or too little. This causes pain and limited mobility in the lower back and buttocks. 

This article will discuss the common causes of sacroiliac dysfunction, symptoms and how physiotherapy treatment can relieve pain and improve movement without the need for invasive surgeries or medication. 

Common Cause Of Sacroiliac Dysfunction

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is a fundamental part of lower limb movement, as it links the spine to the pelvis. It transmits force from the legs to the back and the back to the legs. 

Sacroiliac problems can happen at any age as a result of overtraining, trauma or surgery.

Over time, these joints can become susceptible to arthritis. Inflammation at the site can cause a joint to break down, making it painful and difficult to move. However, there are other causes for sacroiliac dysfunction.

Some causes of SI dysfunction include:

  • Traumatic injury (sports, motor vehicle, fall)
  • Arthritis 
  • Pregnancy and childbirth 
  • Surgery to the hip or spine (lumbar fusion, laminectomy) 
  • Uneven movement of the legs
  • Non-supportive footwear over time

Symptoms of Sacroiliac Dysfunction 

Sacroiliac dysfunction is often misdiagnosed as a herniated disk as, as both conditions represent pain in the same areas. It feels like pain and numbness in the lower back, hip, or buttock and often radiates to the back of the thighs. 

Part of our jobs as physiotherapists is to look at the root cause of your pain, whether it’s in the spine, muscles and ligaments of your lower back or the SI joint itself. This will allow us to begin a specialized and targeted treatment plan. 

Symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction:

  • Instability walking or standing
  • Pain and tenderness in the lower back, hip, pelvis (especially when sitting, sneezing, or coughing) felt more on one side of the body
  • Numbness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Occasionally there will be abdominal pain (at Baer’s sacroiliac point)
  • Changes in gait and posture
  • Lack of coordination

Physiotherapy Treatment 

Luckily, many people who suffer from SI dysfunction respond well to non-operative treatments. 

When you come into our physiotherapy clinic, you’ll undergo a thorough examination to help us understand your health history and lifestyle. This will allow us to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. The examination includes a physical assessment or observation of your posture and gait. 

We strongly believe in empowering our patients to take their recovery into their own hands outside the clinic. This involves patient education, where we’ll discuss lifestyle factors that may have lead to this injury, as well as how you can prevent future injuries from occurring. 

In the clinic, we may use a combination of manual therapies, electrical stimulation and functional training to manage pain and improve the strength and flexibility of the affected area(s). 

These movement exercises are focused on improving core stability to strengthen the movements of the lower lumbar region. 

All treatment plans are customized to suit your lifestyle and movement goals, meaning that no two physiotherapy experiences are the same. 

Book With Impact Physio Today
No one should live with back pain. Let us help you get back to the activities you love with natural, non-invasive treatment plans that will alleviate sacroiliac dysfunction.

SI joint pain can be difficult to diagnose, which means it’s best managed with the help of your physiotherapist and primary care provider. At Impact Physio & Sport Clinic, our physiotherapists are experienced with treating SI dysfunction and can guide you safely and comfortably through recovery. Call us at 780-929-7272 or book an appointment online using our contact form.