The sacroiliac joint is a joint which connects the spine to the hip. If any form of injury or trauma occurs at this joint can cause pain in the groin, low back, pelvis, and/or legs due to abnormal motion occurring at the joint.
It has been estimated that a few cases of low back pain originated from the sacroiliac joint.
Pain originating from the sacroiliac joint can be managed and treated using nonsurgical methods, such as manipulation, exercise, pain relief creams, and physical therapy.
Physical therapy and exercise are typically an essential part of the treatment plan for sacroiliac joint pain relief and recovery.
This article aims to provide anyone interested in learning about this specific joint pain with as much information as possible and answer whether walking with this condition is good or bad.
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Anatomy and Function
Let’s examine and understand the anatomy and function of the sacroiliac joint.
The Sacroiliac joint connects at the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine, referred to as the sacrum, which contains both hip bones. The front part of the SI joint is held together by ligaments with a synovial lining. And the back part of this joint includes a network of strong ligaments that extend across the joint, which provide extra support and stability.
The function of the sacroiliac joint is to absorb the pressure transmitted between the upper and lower body. For instance, this joint helps to absorb shock that is placed on the lower body. That way, when the body performs movements such as running, jumping, or walking, this joint aids in reducing the pressure felt in the lower spine.
Usually, this joint has very little motion, and it allows just small movements to stabilize the pelvis when walking, bending forward or backward, and twisting the spine.
Taking a closer look at the SI joint
What is sacroiliac joint pain?
This is when pain occurs in your lower back or buttock area. Anatomically, this joint connects your pelvis and spine. Therefore, if you feel pain in your lower back and buttock area while moving around, such as sitting down or getting up, then perhaps this joint is the culprit.
Anatomically, let’s refresh, your body has two SI joints in your lower back. Each on one side of your spine. These connect at the sacrum, located at the base of your spine to the ilium, which is the top part of your pelvis. This joint contains strong ligaments that hold them in place. All of these joints come together to support the weight of your upper body when you stand or walk. SI joint functions to help absorb the impact and to reduce pressure on your spine.
What does SI Joint Pain Feel Like
SI joint pain can be dull and achy, while for some, it can be sharp and stabbing. The area where this joint pain is felt the most is in your lower back and buttocks. However, they can move out to your hips, and down to your thighs, groin, and even feet since its connection is with the lower body.
Other ways this joint pain presents:
- The pain gets worse with certain movements. For example, climbing the stairs, tossing and turning in bed, or getting up from a chair.
- The pain occurs on both sides of your back or only one side of your lower back.
- There are muscle tightness and tenderness in your hips or buttocks
- Pain that worsens with taking a long stride, running, or walking.
- Pain due to prolonged standing
What are the causes of Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain
Many conditions cause pain in this joint; these include:
- Axial Spondyloarthritis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Infection: In some cases, the SI joint can become infected and results in degeneration.
- Abnormal walking pattern: For instance, one leg is shorter than the other, or you apply your weight on one leg when you walk because of pain, this can lead to SI joint pain.
- Pregnancy: Various hormones are released, and some loosen the ligaments and joints to prepare for childbirth, this changes the way the SI joint moves and makes it less stable.
- Trauma: A sudden impact, such as a car accident, falling hard, or a sports injury, can damage the SI joint.
- Pathologies of the spine: A fused vertebra, herniated disc, or scoliosis all result in reduced flexibility of the spine. All of these conditions add stress on the SI joint.
How pain in the SI joint treated
Most importantly, the first thing to do is to STOP doing the thing that causes pain in the SI joint. Then proceed to avoid or modify activities that worsen your pain and help reduce inflammation in the joint.
Once the pain begins in this joint, you can apply ice and or heat to help ease sacroiliac joint pain.
Depends on the cause of your SI joint pain, your doctor may advise:
- Pain relievers (over-the-counter or prescribed)
- Muscle relaxants (help reduce muscle spasms)
- Anti-inflammatory meds (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs)
- Biological compounds, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors or others (to treat axial spondyloarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis)
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Your doctor possibly may recommend physical therapy to help you modify your movements. Examples of such programs may include:
- Strengthening exercises which will help to stabilize the joint and reduce the stress load
- Stretching and range-of-motion exercises to maintain joint flexibility
- Body mechanics will teach you how to move and use your body in everyday activities to ease SI joint pain
- Massage therapy to help loosen the sore muscles and improve mobility in the joint, hip, and lower back
If medications or any of the physical therapies don’t help with SI pain, your doctor may advise:
- Radiofrequency ablation: A procedure that uses radio waves to destroy the nerve fibers that carry pain signals in the joint, resulting in reducing pain.
- Steroid shots: Cortisone can be injected directly into the SI joint, and this results in reducing inflammation and pain.
If any of the mentioned treatments don’t provide any pain relief, your doctor may recommend joint fusion surgery. This procedure is minimally invasive and uses metal hardware to join the two bones in the SI joint together, so they fuse.
Is walking good for SI joint pain
Within time you have been informed about anatomy, physiological function, what this pain feels like, causes, and treatments, we can answer the question about “is walking good for SI joint pain.”
Walking is an excellent form of exercise, but if this movement is causing you pain, then it is best to stop walking and see a healthcare professional find out the cause.
After you’ve been diagnosed with a cause and a course of treatment has taken place, your doctor will recommend whether it is good for you to walk or not. Perhaps modifying your walks may be what your doctor recommends. If your doctor approves of you walking, make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes with no heels.
Once you notice that walking is no longer causing you any pain in your lower back and/or buttocks, then upon your doctor’s approval add more time and speed to your pace.
In summary, the sacroiliac joint connects the spine to the hip. If any form of injury or trauma occurs at this joint, this can cause pain in the groin, low back, pelvis, and/or legs due to abnormal motion occurring at the joint. This type of joint pain can be managed and treated.
Once you have been seen by a healthcare professional, who has diagnosed and treated your pain, then with your doctor’s approval, go ahead and begin to walk. If your doctor does not approve, then walking with SI joint pain is not good for you.
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