What is Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome?

By Kassia Portas, Sports Injury Therapist

Sacroilliac Joint (SIJ) Syndrome is an injury that affects the lower back. The SI joint is made up of the coccyx and the pelvis. It is a very sturdy joint that moves very little, the exact reason for pain here is still under debate but the identification and management is something I can help you with today!

How can you identify the injury?

SIJ Syndrome often shows as pain in the lower back, to the side of the coccyx. It most commonly affects one side at a time. The pain can feel very localised, sometimes a ‘pinching feeling’ but it can also radiate around the buttocks area on the same side. This referred pain would feel more achy, tight, warm or even as numbness and pins and needles.

Often things that aggravate this injury are things like extending the back, such as leaning backwards or going into a back bend, as this compresses the joint causing the irritation to show itself. Other movements such as standing on one leg, rotating towards the affected side, or walking for longer, or even short, periods at a time depending on how severe the injury is.

People often complain of the area feeling ‘compressed’ or ‘stuck’. This may cause you to want to move in the opposite direction or even feel the urge to click the joint to try and relieve it.

These are just the common way to identify this injury, but if you have any concerns about pain in this area then I recommend going to see a health care practitioner, especially if you are experiencing any of the neurological symptoms such as numbness or pins and needles.

How can you manage the symptoms?

Very often SIJ Syndrome is associated with weakness in the buttocks, or glute, muscles. So, this is a really good place to start! Simple strengthening exercises such as glute kick backs and glute bridges can be done in a none aggravating way, usually by making the movement smaller. Other exercises such as balancing on one leg are a great way to get the glutes working.

Due to the compressive element of how this joint can be aggravated, stretching it out the opposite way can also be relieving. This would look like leaning forward to touch your toes, no matter how far away you might be! This can help open the joint in a different way and help ease your symptoms. Stretching out your glute muscles, again can help ease the compression or stuck feeling either giving you some immediate relief or helping to reduce the symptoms over time with some consistent stretching.

Additionally, you may find that having manual therapy helps reduce your symptoms. Manual therapy is usually a short term solution to help reduce your pain so that you can get on with your rehab more comfortably. This could be getting a massage or having some manual therapy in your sports therapy sessions.

It is vital that you involve the strengthening element of rehab, rather than just focussing on the shorter-term benefits of stretching and manual therapy. By strengthening the muscles around the SI joint you will be helping reduce the risk of this injury reoccurring in the future.

If you have suffered with a SIJ issue and would like physiotherapy or sports injury treatment from our practitioners at our Thornbury, Thornbury Active or Yate clinics , please contact our reception team on 01454 838366 or book online.