Sacroiliitis Joint Pain Treatment and Physical Exercise: A Comprehensive Guide

Authentic well-being is associated with a lack of joint discomfort. However, due to various factors, the musculoskeletal system, comprised of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles, is highly vulnerable to severe injuries. 

As a result, joint pain is a common experience for individuals of all ages and genders, occurring at least once in their lifetime. One such joint pain type is sacroiliitis joint pain.

Sacroiliac joint pain frequently causes joint pain, which impedes an individual’s ability to perform simple tasks. This condition is characterized by inflammation of one or both sacroiliac joints, leading to discomfort in the buttocks, thighs, groin, or upper back.

It may be tempting to ignore lower back pain that arises when standing up or sitting down after prolonged periods. However, sacroiliac joint pain is something that shouldn’t be left unnoticed. Scroll down to discover the symptoms, causes and holistic sacroiliac joint pain treatment options for better recovery. 

SI Joint Pain: Causes and Symptoms

The human body has a pair of lower back sacroiliac joints that significantly affect spine flexibility and mobility. The sacroiliac (SI) joint connects the lower part of the spine above the tailbone to the pelvic region. 

With each step, these joints help balance the weight between the legs and the torso. Pain in the SI joint might occur due to various reasons, including natural degeneration or injury. 

Research shows that only 15 to 30% of individuals suffer from this SI joint discomfort. Now, let’s discuss the common causes of this joint pain in detail below. 

Common Causes of SI Joint Pain

In most cases, sacroiliac joint pain is concerned with pain and joint inflammation. There are numerous causes for SI joint pain, including certain lifestyle habits that will increase the risk of short-term or recurrent episodes of this joint pain. Some common causes include:

  • Injuries and Sports Accidents 

A sudden and hard fall on your back during sports or high-impact activities can cause inflammation and trauma to various joint and spinal structures. It also includes sacroiliac joints, often linked to accidental falls and athletic injuries.

  • Gait

A frequently observed cause of SI joint pain is the walking pattern of an individual, which can greatly affect the joints. If you habitually take uneven strides due to the unequal leg length, you are more likely to develop the condition. 

  • Repetitive Stress on the Lower Back

Certain activities like jogging or manual labour occupations where the feet constantly pound on hard surfaces repetitively force stress on the lower back. It will also increase the chance of progressing SI joint discomfort.

  • Arthritis

Several studies show that arthritis can also affect your lower back structure, resulting in SI joint pain. It can damage the joints, with the person feeling unrelenting pain and diminishing cartilage flexibility.

  • Pregnancy

Women commonly experience weight gain, hormonal changes, and pelvic joint adjustments during pregnancy. After delivery, the ligaments will remain loose as they were during pregnancy, resulting in SI pain.

  • Obesity

Being overweight can add extra pressure on the joints as they must balance the entire weight. The excess pressure induces inflammation and degeneration, leading to SI joint pain with limited movement. 

Symptoms of SI Joint Pain

If you are diagnosed with Sacroiliitiac joint pain, you might experience the following symptoms.

Lower Back Pain – This pain is experienced on both sides of the joints and usually results in a dull ache that progresses into varying degrees of severity.

Pain Radiation – Pain is radiated to the groin and entire hip region. In other words, the pain is often felt in the lower body region, hindering your performance in daily activities.

Stiffness – The joint stiffness limits the individual’s mobility, especially the lower back. It will be challenging to perform normal activities like bending or stair climbing.

Instability – Instability in the lower back or pelvic region may cause discomfort or uneasiness in simple movements such as walking or standing.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for SI Joint Pain

  • Rest and Activity Modification

In the first few days or weeks, the healthcare professional might recommend ample rest as the primary treatment plan. Keep your activity level to a minimum and avoid activities that might worsen your condition and increase pain. 

  • Ice and Heat Therapy

Besides resting, undergoing ice and heat therapy can help relieve SI joint pain. The approach not only decreases pain and discomfort but also effectively reduces inflammation. Ice/hot packs are applied directly to the lower back and pelvic area to eliminate muscle tension and spasms.

  • Medications

Doctors usually suggest prescription or OTC medications such as NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and naproxen, to reduce joint swelling. If the patient has severe pain, the doctor might prescribe narcotic drugs but only for a specific period, as they can be addictive and cause potential side effects when used for a long-time.

  • Injection Therapy

Injection therapy for SI joint pain is the conservative treatment method. As the drug is administered in the fluid form, the approach promptly relieves the inflammation and pain. Here are a few best therapy approaches: 

  1. Corticosteroid Injections – Corticosteroid injections have anti-inflammatory properties that decrease the swelling within the SI joint, alleviating the pain and related symptoms. 
  2. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy – PRP is processed using one’s blood platelets to stimulate a healing response. When the platelets are injected into the injured region, they produce growth factors and special proteins to ease the pain.
  • Physical Therapy Exercises

Physical therapy exercises for sacroiliac involve stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobic exercises to enhance our SI joints’ strength, mobility and flexibility. Repetitive tensed movements in the lower back and hips are the primary cause of the pain. A professional therapist usually addresses your condition and creates a personalized program to stimulate healing.

Surgical Treatment Options for SI Joint Pain

  • Arthrodesis

It is a joint fusion process where the two bones are united through surgery by removing the cartilage to stabilize the bones. 

  • Sacroiliitiac Joint Fusion

It is a minimally invasive process where a small incision is made to implant screws, rods or bone grafts into the affected joints. 

Physical Exercises for SI Joint Pain

Performing low-impact physical exercises will strengthen the muscles in your hips and eliminate pressure from the SI joints that support your weight. Incorporating sacroiliitis physical therapy also increases your flexibility after the surgery. 

  • Range of Motion Exercises

It involves gradual and gentle leg movements to increase the mobility and range of motion in the affected joints. This exercise will also reduce the stiffness in the pelvic and hip muscles.

  • Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercise involves the core muscles to eliminate any pressure on the joints and support them to balance your entire upper body weight to perform various activities. 

  • Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercise induces movement in the lower back, leg and hip muscles. You should follow the guidelines from the professional to regain full mobility.

  • Posture Correction and Body Mechanics

Maintaining a proper posture according to your body mechanics is important to manage pain and enhance overall health. Sitting or standing in a hunched position for a long time will cause strain in the spine muscles, resulting in Sacroiliitiac joint pain. 

  • Activity Modification

Older individuals are more prone to the deterioration of Sacroiliitiac joints than younger ones. Therefore it is imperative to avoid certain activities like improper lifting or golf that cause repetitive motion or joint stress. Practising such activity modification will prevent chronic injury.

Conclusion

Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints. It is often associated with arthritis and degenerative disease, where Sacroiliitiac joint pain is overlooked. 

Even though it is a serious condition, many people have recovered and returned to normal activities with appropriate treatment. 

Therefore, ensure an accurate diagnosis and follow effective and individualized treatment for sacroiliitis at the early stages. Moreover, maintaining a healthy posture, proper body mechanics, following regular exercise, and a nutritious diet will help you prevent the condition’s onset.

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