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What is SIJ Dysfunction?

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

The Sacro-iliac joint or SIJ for short, is located between the sacrum (the triangle shaped bone at the base of your spine) and the ilium (a flat bone which makes up a part of your pelvis). This joint transmits forces to and from the lower body, and therefore is a relatively stable joint with only small degrees of movement.

To understand how a person may develop SIJ pain it is important to grasp how this joint works. The sacrum fits together with the ilium and is surrounded by ligaments and muscles which provide the joint with support and stability during movement. The muscles of the abdomen, low back, hips, and buttocks play an important role in actively stabilizing the SIJ. It is therefore important that the bones, ligaments and muscles work together to stabilize the SIJ.

In some people, an issue with these bones, ligaments and muscles around the SIJ can cause dysfunction, whereby there is too much or too little movement occurring at the joint. An example of too much movement, commonly referred to as HYPERmobility is a pregnant patient who has increased laxity in their ligaments from hormones, therefore causing the joint to move more. An example of having too little movement, or HYPOmobility could be a patient with osteoarthritis at the hip which alters the bone structure and can limit their movement. Either hyper or hypo mobility can cause significant pain in the low back or pelvic region. There are several risk factors which may increase your likelihood of getting SIJ-related pain including pregnancy, repetitive or prolonged activities, leg length discrepancy, poor posture, osteoarthritis, and previous injuries to structures around the joint.

People that experience SIJ dysfunction can have various symptoms including:

  • Pain in the low back, pelvis or hip

  • Discomfort sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time

  • Discomfort when walking, particularly when climbing stairs

  • Referred pain into buttocks

If you think you may have SIJ pain, it is best to see a health professional to confirm the diagnosis and provide a tailored rehabilitation program depending on your identified issues. All of our Physiotherapists at The Movement Workshop South Melbourne are trained to assess and treat SIJ problems. See our Instagram post @themovementworkshop_physio for some basic exercises which may help your SIJ pain!

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