Can a Chiropractor Help with SI Joint Pain?  

Any chronic pain can have debilitating effects on your daily life. One of the worst areas to experience chronic pain is in your lower back – specifically around your sacroiliac joints (SI). SI joint pain is quite common, and the issues causing are easy to address. One of the first options people explore is chiropractic assistance. Can a Chiropractor help with SI Joint pain? That is what we aim to answer here.

Chiropractic treatment aims to help patients live without pain through careful and proper joint adjustment. Everything connects to the nervous system, including blinking, breathing, and swallowing. Joints out of line can affect the nervous system’s ability to function correctly – causing joint pain and other issues. Adjusting joints can relieve pain and restore the nervous system functions to the fullest capability. This treatment applies to SI joint dysfunction, too.

What Is the SI Joint?

As mentioned, SI stands for sacroiliac. Everyone has two of the joints located on either side of the sacrum and ilium – also known as the hip bone. The SI joint is at the bottom of the spine. Ideally, the joint will move in a shearing motion, sliding back and forth between the two joint facets with little to no issue.

What Causes SI Joint Dysfunction?

si joint pain

If the joint is out of place, pain can occur. Dysfunction means the joint is not moving correctly and causing concerns. Issues might include a limited range of motion or too much motion. The ilium or sacrum can become ill-positioned or even stuck. Each of the two joints helps to transfer weight from the upper body to the lower body. They allow minimal movement and have support from the connected tendons and ligaments. If you carry too much weight or sit for too long, you can impede the joint’s movement and health. Prior spinal injuries also can cause SI joint dysfunction.

Another cause to consider is having one leg shorter than the other, even slightly. If one leg is anatomically shorter, it forces the other side to bear more weight and work harder. Understandably, this imbalance leads to stress on the ligaments and tendons, causing discomfort and pain. Anything that affects the gait can lead to SI joint pain.

How Do You Diagnose SI Joint Pain?

If you suspect the SI joint is at the root of your pain, you can have this assessed and diagnosed by a physician or chiropractor. Past medical history, current status, and a physical exam will help to diagnose the concern.

The physical test is known as Patrick’s test. The physician will cross one foot to the opposite knee and depress the knee to trigger the SI joint. If you experience pain near the joint, it is a good indicator that SI joint pain is the root of your problem. This test is also known as FABER, or Flexion, Abduction, and External Rotation test.

This exam is not the only course of diagnosis, though. Practitioners also can check medical trauma history, gait irregularities, or leg length deviances. SI joint dysfunction often appears in the lower back during weight-bearing activities – like walking. If your pain appears and worsens while walking and alleviates by sitting down, it can be a reliable indicator.

This type of dysfunction can appear on an X-ray if it is chronic sacroiliitis due to chronic inflammation. Inflamed joints need extra calcium for reinforcement, and X-rays will show the fortification of calcium.

SI Joint Pain Chiropractic Treatment

A chiropractor’s SI joint treatment can help to reset the joint and provide relief in other ways.

Ultrasound and Heat Application

One of the conventional chiropractic approaches is to use ultrasound as the first step of treatment. An ultrasound delivers heat to the interior of the joint. This heat enables connective tissues to warm up, allowing it to stretch easier and relieve pain. A simple adjustment can help realign the joints for quick relief.

Resetting the SI Joint

si joint adjustment

A chiropractor can also reset an SI joint with adjustment and alignment. By manipulating the joint in a specific way, the SI joint adjustment can reduce inflammation and provide relief. The adjustment will help restore motion in the SI joint and other affected areas. SI joint dysfunction tends to respond well to chiropractic treatment and provides quick pain relief. Treatment intensity and duration will vary by person, lifestyle, and degree of pain.

Long-Term Solutions

If it is a more serious cause, like scoliosis or leg length issues, a long-term solution is to balance the pelvis with custom shoe soles. Specially constructed shoe soles can help to balance a pelvis and relieve pressure. For more stubborn joints, a trochanteric belt worn under the clothes can keep joints in place.

Post-Treatment Care

hamstring stretch

After resetting SI joints, it is up to the patient to maintain exercises and stretches to keep the joints limber and loose. Hamstring stretches are one of the most recommended ones as they pull on the lower pelvis. If the hamstring is tight, this pull can misalign the joints again. Lunges and fencing postures are also great for the inner hip muscle. If you have any joint pain, SI, or otherwise, stretching will help. A limber and flexible patient is much less likely to suffer from joint pain.

Is Chiropractic Good for SI Joint Pain?

Given the multiple potential causes of SI joint dysfunction, assistance from a chiropractor is advisable. The diagnosis will lead to proper treatment – either through resetting the joint or ordering custom sole inserts for more symmetry. Alleviating the pain is crucial, not only for everyday life but also for the potential risks of an untreated SI joint dysfunction.

If left alone, a misaligned SI joint can fuse and prevent any future movement. Joints have to move – it is their function. SI joints enable flexibility and shock absorbency in the pelvis. If the joints fuse, you lose that function and flexibility. Treating the dysfunction will be essential to maintaining movement and relieving pain – now and in the future.

Sunrise Chiropractic is a chiropractic office run by Dr. Doug Loehrer in Citrus Heights, California. We hope this article helped answer your question!


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