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Sacroiliac joint (SIJ) dysfunction

What is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?

SIJ dysfunction occurs when the ligaments that help stabilise the joint between your pelvis and spine are compromised in which they restrict small movements in this area. The ligaments fail to stabilise the region, irritation and inflammation at the joint occur resulting in pain to the buttocks, sciatic pain, pelvic pain (pudendal neuralgia), groin pain, spasm through the gluteals and hip pain. High impact activities such as running may worsen the pain. SIJ dysfunction is caused by high-impact accidents, for example, car accidents and general trauma. Pregnancy can also cause issues throughout this area.

How do I know if I have sacroiliac joint dysfunction?

You may have SIJ dysfunction if you experience the following:

  • Pain in buttocks region (usually one side and travels down to the tailbone.)
  • Pain can go from buttocks and down the side of the leg
  • Spasm throughout their gluteal muscles
  • Pain across the base of their lower back

Activities that may aggravate this condition include arching your back, twisting in bed, long car journeys, walking up hills and going downstairs. Imaging may be used to help diagnose.  SIJ dysfunction is commonly found in women.

How can physiotherapy help with sacroiliac joint dysfunction?

Your physiotherapist can help put together a personal plan to help with your recovery this will include manual therapy, hands-on treatments and comprehensive and progressive functional exercise program to build control and dynamic strength through the lumbar spine, pelvis and hips, for everyday life, work and sport.

What can I do at home?

It is important to understand your condition and listen to the instructions of the physiotherapist. You may be able to lay on your stomach with a pillow under the lumbar spine, and a hard-covered book under the pelvic bone, on the painful side, can often help alleviate the pain. You may also use ice to reduce inflammation or use heat packs at the bottom muscles if they are tight and overactive. Gentle sit-to-stand exercises from a chair, stopping just before you sit on the chair, can help build the bottom muscles that support the sacroiliac joint.

How long will my recovery be?

SIJ dysfunction requires a change in biomechanical patterning and an increase in strength which requires a minimum of 12 weeks to achieve. You should expect your symptoms to disappear between 12-24 weeks although on-going exercises may be required to prevent reoccurrence.  

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.