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If you have ever had lower back pain, you know how much of a debilitating condition it can be. Each movement inflicts agonizing pain which can effect both your personal and work lives. Although there are many causes of lower back pain, one of the most common is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction.
The sacroiliac joint is in the lower back where the pelvis meets the spine. Each person has two sacroiliac joints, each of which is located between the sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis below the lumbar spine. The joints are held together by strong ligaments which play a key role in supporting the back and spine.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction often shows itself as pain in the sacroiliac joint which can be caused by a number of conditions. The pain usually starts in the joint and surrounding bones and ligaments but can lead to pain in the lower back and buttocks. Since the sacroiliac joint has many nerve endings, pain in the region is emphasized leading to immobility issues in those who suffer from this condition. This pain is often heightened since it transmits all the forces of the upper body to the pelvis, as well as due to the high use of the sacroiliac joint in every day activities.
Sacroiliac joint pain is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage in the joints. When healthy, the cartilage acts as a shock absorber cushioning the movements of the body. However, when this cartilage breaks down, the bones begin to rub together which causes pain, stiffness, and soreness in the joint. When left untreated, this can even lead to degenerative arthritis.
The degeneration of cartilage in the sacroiliac joint can be caused by a number of things, including general aging degeneration, weight-bearing stress, and even pregnancy. In fact, any condition that alters the normal walking pattern can lead to sacroiliac joint dysfunction This includes leg length discrepancy and pain in the hip, leg, ankle or foot that causes you to adjust your normal walking motion. This alteration in walking function leads to an increase of stress on the sacroiliac joint causing it to wear down faster than normal.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can also be caused by medical conditions that cause inflammation in the joint. These conditions include psoriasis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you feel you might have sacroiliac joint dysfunction, you should see a medical professional. A diagnosis typically begins with a thorough medical history and physical examination. Questions will include if you have any underlying disorders or recent injuries that may have caused the pain.
In order to determine if the pain is in fact from the sacroiliac joint, a series of tests that isolate the joints and lower spine will be performed. The joints can be identified as the source of pain when the patient’s hips and legs are in a certain position and pressure is applied to the effected region. Other tests my include x-ray and CT scans to get a better view of the effected region to determine if it is injured or irregular.
If you suffer from lower back and pain in the buttocks resulting from sacroiliac joint dysfunction, there are a variety of chiropractic procedures that can be done. Patients will respond to specific treatments and adjustments differently, so the treatment plan used for each patient will be unique. These may also include a combination of various treatments depending on the specific causes and severity of the joint pain. However, the most common treatment used by chiropractors is manipulation of the sacroiliac joint.
The process of spinal manipulation begins with the patient lying on their back. The chiropractor will flex the patient’s top knee and raise it to their chest with the bottom shoulder positioned forward, creating a stretch in the lower back and pelvic region. The chiropractor will then apply pressure to the sacroiliac joint with their hand. Once tension is relieved from the lumbar spine and the pre-manipulation is set and comfortable, the chiropractor applies a controlled thrust which usually results in an audible release we know as a crack. This relieves the tension within the sacroiliac joint allowing the cartilage to heal itself naturally on its own. With the spine and joints in proper alignment, pain is relieved from the region and the body is able to heal.
Although lower back pain is a common ailment for many people, it may be a sign of a more serious condition like sacroiliac joint dysfunction. In order to avoid further damage to the sacroiliac joint, as well as to reduce pain, it is recommended to seek medical attention immediately.
Chiropractic care provides a natural solution to pain resulting from sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Rather than rely on prescription pain medications or undergo invasive back surgery, chiropractic care allows the body to naturally heal itself by treating the pain at its source. Through spinal manipulation and other common chiropractic treatments, patients will also see an improvement in their overall spine health which will reduce the probability of pain and injury in the future.
Dr. Kevin Christie is a Chiropractic Physician and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in Miami, FL at Health-Fit Chiropractic & Sports Medicine where he treats college athletes, as well as professional athletes from the NFL, MLB, and NHL. Dr. Christie was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to the Board of Athletic Trainers as the Chiropractic Advisor. He is also part of the IRONMAN® Provider Network through A.R.T., which sets up a treatment tent for every IRONMAN event to provide treatment to IRONMAN athletes.