If you suffer from SI joint pain, chiropractic adjustments of the SI joint can give you pain relief and help you get back to being active again. Spinal manipulation for the SI joint is both evidence-based and safe and is generally considered the first-line treatment for this condition. In this content, I’ll explain how to figure out if your lower back is from the SI joint and how chiropractic manipulation or other treatments can help you get pain free and moving again.
Do I Have SI Joint Pain?
Low back pain can be produced by many different structures in your lower back, so determining what’s the pain producer is the first step in getting over it. Let’s cover some of the common characteristics of low back pain that comes the SI joint:
- You may feel like the pain is in your “hip.” Many of us refer to the SI joint as our hip, when really it’s not the true hip. It IS one of the big joints in the pelvis but it’s not really the “hip” joint. If put your hands on your hips, your thumbs will touch a boney prominence. This is your SI joint. If your tender in this area or if this is where your low back pain is, it may be originating in your SI joint.
- You have tenderness and a feeling that there is a little “rope” over your SI joint. – If you have tenderness in this area, you’re feeling an SI joint ligament. These can become irritated or sprained.
- Laying on your stomach or leaning backward makes your SI joint hurt. – When you are laying on your stomach or leaning back you’re compressing the SI joint. If this produces pain your low back pain is likely SI joint related.
- Swinging your leg forward and backward makes your SI joint hurt. – This movement causes some shifting in the SI joint and can stretch and compress the joint capsule, both of which can be irritated if you have SI joint pain.
- You feel like you want to “crack or pop” the SI joint – If you find yourself trying to “crack or pop” the SI joint for relief you may have low back pain originating in the SI joint.
- You have pain around the SI joint and some aching in the back or front of your leg. – SI joint problems can also create what’s called “referred pain.” Referred pain means that the SI joint is actually causing symptoms of pain in other areas too.
Chiropractic Adjustments For SI Joint Pain
If your low back pain is coming from the SI joint, you may have what’s called “joint dysfunction.” SI joint dysfunction is characterized by the symptoms above. The joint is irritated and painful, possibly flammed, may have pressure, and it’s not moving or functioning how it should be.
Most often its fixated or “stuck.” This dysfunctional SI joint creates pain and makes it difficult to move comfortably. Our joints are designed to move smoothly and support our frame. If you have SI joint dysfunction, it’s not doing this. Don’t confuse fixation with “misalignment.” Some joints can get misaligned (it’s rare), but usually, there are a number of factors in play that may cause this
Chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT), also called a chiropractic adjustment, is an evidence-based treatment for treating SI joint pain. This treatment can relieve pain, restore motion to the joint, and get you back to functioning and training normally again. There’s plenty of evidence that shows it’s both effective and safe when treating SI joint dysfunction.
Other Treatments For SI Joint Pain
Chiropractic manipulative therapy isn’t the only effective treatment for SI Joint dysfunction. Here are a few others that are good treatments either by themselves or in combination to CMT:
- Stretches and corrective exercises – These will help push the SI joint back into its normal range of motion, loosen up tight muscles and tissues, strengthen weak muscles, activate lazy muscles, and create a balance between muscles in the region.
- Acupuncture or Dry Needling – This is a great treatment for relieving pain related to SI Joint dysfunction, but is best used with stretches and corrective exercises. See my content here for more on this topic –> Dry Needling For SI Joint Pain
- Kinesiotape – Applying kinesiotape (also called K-tape, Rock Tape, or KT tape) for the relief of SI joint pain has been shown through research to be effective.
- TENS units or electrical muscle stimulation – These treatments can help relieve pain and loosen up the muscles around the SI joint that are also contributing to the problem.
It’s always best to have a healthcare provider examine you to determine if your low back pain is from SI joint dysfunction or something else. A good chiropractor would be the best provider to see, but you can also consult a physical therapist (still a good provider to see) or a medical doctor (doesn’t spend as much time diagnosing SI Joint dysfunction.)
Are you someone who likes to see research to support health claims? Me too! I like to make recommendations and know they’re good ones. See this study which emphasizes that manipulation is the most effective approach for relieving SI joint pain.
Dr. Jason Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. He treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, dry needling, acupuncture, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating athletes, especially those in the CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA community.
If you’re interested in whether he or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.