I seem to sit a lot, despite my efforts to live an active lifestyle. I sit for the scattered six hours throughout my day that I spend writing. I also sit for a few scattered hours in the evening when I handsew, which is my favorite hobby for relaxation. All of this sitting can cause problems with my sacroiliac joints, a little known problem that often gets misdiagnosed and mistreated.
If you reach around to the small of your back and rub your hand down your spine to a bony projection in your pelvic area, that is where sacroiliac joints are found. More and more, people who sit a lot for work, truck drivers and even yoga enthusiasts are developing chronic sacroiliac pain, often misdiagnosed under the general label “lower back pain”.
The sacroiliac joints can experience events that create a lot of movement within the joints. Pain is an indicator, a warning sign, a red flag the body is sending up that you are possibly hurting your sacroiliac joint. Chronic sacroiliac joint pain is often treated by physicians of traditional medicine with a pain medication. If pills are not your preference, there are some stretching techniques that can help alleviate sacroiliac joint pain and also prevent future injury.
Sacroiliac pain, also called SI pain, involves the bones of the joints as well as the attached ligaments. SI pain is described as an ache around what is designated as the “posterior superior iliac spine”, abbreviated PSIS. This pain is often located on one specific side of the body. The PSIS is the bottom bone of the pelvis. It is a bony protrusion a few inches to the side of the sacrum’s center. The sacrum is a triangular-shaped bone just above the tailbone. If you palpate this area and it is tender, you probably have SI pain.
Classic SI pain will radiate toward the pelvis. Discomfort can be felt even into the upper thigh and hip but is distinctly different from sciatica pain which is felt in the fleshy parts of the back of a thigh. SI pain typically travels along the side of a thigh, with the pain originating in the corresponding buttock.
To alleviate SI pain and prevent future flare-ups, avoid wide-legged stances, such as are used in traditional squats. Twists and side-bends also tend to aggravate the conditon. Twisting with a forward bend is perhaps one of the most aggravating movements for SI pain.
The sacroiliac joint is made up of five vertebrae that, over time, fuse together to form a single bone of triangular shape with the coccyx (tailbone) located at the downward point. The sacroiliac distributes body weight equally among the hips and legs. Ligaments create resistance to stabilize the sacroiliac joint. Spaces between joints are filled with cartilage, connective tissue, and lubricating synovial fluid.
As a person ages, particularly men, three pelvic bones, the sacrum and two ilium bones, fuse. Many doctors mistakenly believe that this then makes the sacrum invulnerable to injury because it is one single bone rather than several joints. However, new research indicates that the sacroiliac joints are still susceptible to dislocation, ligament strain, and misalignment.
This can happen from violent jarring of the sacrum, such as jumping onto a hard surface. Overstretching the ligaments can also cause misalignment. Repetitive movement and vibration, such as hours driving in a bumpy truck can cause inflammation.
So, bottom line is, stretch gently, avoid squats, twists and deep forward bends. And that is the secret of the sacroiliac.