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5 Reasons the SI Joint Might Hurt

si joint

By Kieran Loving, ATC

What in the world is an SI joint? Why is it even important? SI joint problems can happen in people of all ages and fitness levels. I used to work as an athletic trainer in high school setting and many young athletes would complain about lower back pain or symptoms that radiated down their legs. You might be thinking, ‘They’re young. They can’t have low back problems. They’re in peak physical condition and participate in sports practices for hours a day!’ So why were they coming into the athletic training room with lower back issues?

The sacroiliac joint, or SI joint is the joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis, which are connected by strong ligaments. The sacrum supports the spine and is supported in turn by an ilium on each side. So if you took your hand and felt your lower spine you will notice that it disappears into one big flat bone splitting your buttocks into two. On either side is the joint.

So what causes SI Joint paint? Here are five common causes for SI Joint pain.

  • Too much movement: The pain is typically felt in the lower back and/or hip and may radiate into groin area.
  • Too little movement: The pain is typically felt on one side of the lower back or buttocks, and can radiate down the leg. This condition is generally more common in young and middle-aged women.
  • Trauma: The trauma may or may not seem severe. For example, SI joint injuries can come from something as simple as stepping on a stair or curb the wrong way and “jamming” the joint, to sustaining a fall, or even being in a car accident.
  • Lax ligaments during pregnancy: During pregnancy, the hormones relax the muscles and ligaments, particularly in the pelvis. Occasionally, the ligaments get too lax and the SI joint slips out of place and can cause pain.
  • Mechanical stress: Some people have severe stiffness in their spines due to conditions such as severe arthritis or surgical spinal fusion. This stiffness can cause additional stress at the SI joint, which over time can lead to movement dysfunction and pain.

When those same kids came into the athletic training room, we had to have a long discussion about what exactly was happening in their lower backs. Patient education is the key to success and we spend a lot of time here at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center educating and answering questions with our patients. Knowing what exactly the SI joint is and how it is associated with pain and loss of function can really help in getting back on track to recovery and restoration of activities.

These movement issues can cause several conditions that can affect sports, workouts, traveling in a car, work and all aspects of our lives. But the good news is that physical therapy is a great treatment method to handle you SI Joint pain. Here at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our clinicians will work with you on targeting strengthening, stretching, hands-on therapy to address your symptoms, improve your movement patterns and get you back to the activities to love. Call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300.

For more information on SI Joint pain and other issues in this part of the body, CLICK HERE for a short video. 


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