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This week we’re going to be talking about sacroiliac problems, often called sacroiliac joint syndrome or dysfunction. The sacroiliac joint is right at the base of the spine, directly below the lumbar spine. It is the joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones in your pelvis. We very often see patients who have been told they have some form of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, but as you’ll be able to tell from the things we’ll discuss, we’re not a fan of this particular diagnosis since very few people actually have a true sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
As a joint, it’s pretty much impossible to move it without the involvement of other muscles and joints becoming involved, so it’s very difficult to injure it in normal circumstances. We tend to take our attention more to the lumbar spine and the hips, as these are what would affect the sacroiliac joint at the end of the day. However, if you are a pregnant lady then you might find that the ligaments that hold together the sacroiliac joint become lax in preparation for childbirth. The main factors that give the sacroiliac joint its integrity are the ligaments, as well as a keystone-like mechanism that locks the joint into place under compressive load. As the ligaments become lax during pregnancy, you can find that the sacroiliac joints move, causing a bit more stress and strain to go through the joints. This is something that can provide women with trouble during childbirth. If this is the case and you’re experiencing pain around the SI joint, it’s worthwhile placing an ice-pack covered in a towel on this region for around 5 minutes at a time, a few times a day. This will help to get a handle on the inflammation and decrease it. The joints are very deep set, so as a result it can be a difficult area to treat. Pregnant ladies or women who have had multiple children, are the group that really do suffer with their sacroiliac joint more-so than any other group of people.
Outside of pregnancy, reasons you may have been told you have a sacroiliac joint dysfunction, can be due to a leg length discrepancy or even that a practitioner has told the patient that they could ‘feel’ the sacroiliac joint problem. Regarding leg length, if you have level leg lengths, the impact on the hips and spine is very even, and shouldn’t cause a problem. If a patient has one leg with a length discrepancy, this can case a little more wear and tear through the hips and spine over time.
Be wary of a practitioner who identifies a leg length discrepancy without doing an accurate assessment, I.e. using X-ray imaging to quantify the difference in leg length. Sometimes we hear of patients being told they have a difference in leg length just by lying down on a table and having their feet examined – but this isn’t accurate in the slightest. Regarding the ability for a practitioner to ‘feel’ the sacroiliac dysfunction, be very wary of a practitioner who tells you they are able to do this. In the same sense it’s impossible to feel a slipped disc, the sacroiliac joint is equally deep-set, and even in the most slight of patients it is not possible to physically feel the problem.

If you’re a pregnant lady, you may also be recommended to use a sacroiliac support belt, we are not necessarily the biggest fans of support belts, as they do put a lot of pressure on the lower levels of your spine. In saving one area, you effectively challenge another – which can lead to other problems in the lower back section – but they can sometimes be helpful to patients. Getting some good quality treatment to calm the area down a bit during pregnancy, because ultimately it will only be a temporary issue if you’re talking about true sacroiliac dysfunction. If you’re not a pregnant lady and you’ve been diagnosed with a sacroiliac joint dysfunction, we would leave that diagnosis as a last resort. Our first port of call would be to assess the lumbar spine, and the hips to make sure they’re functioning as well as they can do because that’s likely where the joint is being stressed and what is the actual underlying problem. You’re going to have much more success in resolving the issue if you look to those areas and addressing any issues there, than attempting to find someone who can treat a sacroiliac diagnosis.

By treating either the lower back or identifying a leg length issue, this will allow you to have a more balanced structure, the muscle tension that can occur around the hips an be treated to improve mobility, and the joints will not have to work extra hard. If you just try to treat the sacroiliac joint you’re going to be out of tools, it’s possible to reduce inflammation but you need to work on the body elsewhere to determine the cause of the problem to actually have an effective treatment result overall.

We hope this article has been helpful for you. If you have any questions regarding your case, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. You can reach out on our social channels, by calling the clinic on 0203 947 3222 or by emailing the clinic at info@themayfairclinic.com. Stay up to date with our latest posts, we update our articles page every Monday with a new topic, and upload a new video to our YouTube channel each week!

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