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What Are the Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

Updated July 19, 2017

The sacroiliac joint is the intersection between the pelvis and the lower spine. Injury, misalignment, hormonal changes and inflammation can contribute to pain.

Structure

Five lower spinal vertebrae form the triangular-shaped sacrum. The ilium is the arch-shaped bone of the upper pelvis. Cartilage holds the sacrum and ilium together at the sacroiliac joint (SI joint).

Injury

Most injury to the SI joint comes from impact to the sacrum or pelvis. Falling backward or sideways onto a hard surface is a common source of injury.

Misalignment

SI joint misalignment occurs from a number of factors. Uneven leg length or strength imbalances in opposing muscles can shift the SI joint out of alignment. Repetitive movements from exercise, sport, even driving can stress the joint.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, hormones relax pelvic cartilage and ligaments to facilitate passage of the baby through the birth canal. This laxity plus weight gain can cause pressure on the SI joint. To a lesser degree, women experience this same hormonal change during menstruation.

Inflammation and Diet

Inflammatory diseases such as arthritis create pain in any joint. Ankylosing spondylitis is arthritis particular to the SI joint. Acidic foods, alcohol and caffeine can produce inflammatory conditions within joints.

Treatment

Traditional Western medical treatments for SI joint pain include anti-inflammatory medications, physiotherapy and surgery. Alternative treatments such as osteopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, Rolfing or yoga therapy can provide relief. Including alkaline foods in a well-balanced diet can reduce inflammation.

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About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Jen Young is a certified personal trainer, performer and writer. She has written various articles for the PBS Adult Learning Service website. Young holds a Bachelors of Arts in radio, television and film from University of Southern Mississippi.