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Why even younger populations might be having this kind of discomfort

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By: Kieran Loving, ATC

What in the world is an SI joint?  Why is it even important? When I worked in a high school, many young athletes would complain about lower back pain or symptoms that radiate down there legs. They’re young, they can’t have low back problems can they? They’re in peak physical condition able to practice and do activities for hours a day! So why were they coming into the athletic training room with lower back issues.

The sacroiliac joint or SI joint (SIJ) 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 in two, on each side is the joint.

Pain is this region is usually caused by:

  • 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 low back or buttocks, and can radiate down the leg. This condition is generally more common in young and middle-aged women, sorry girls!
  • Trauma. The trauma may or may not seem severe. For example, SI joint injury can come from something as simple as stepping on a stair or curb the wrong way and “jamming” the joint to sustaining a fall (it has been slippery out there!) or even being in a motor vehicle accident.
  • Lax ligaments during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the hormones relax the muscles and ligaments, particularly in the pelvis. Occasionally the ligaments get too lax that the SI joint slips out of place and can be painful.  Come see us and bring your babies!
  • 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 there lower back.  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 different conditions that can affect sports, gym, traveling in a vehicle, work and all aspects of our lives.  But again no need to worry, here at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center we are fully capable of handling these conditions and improving your movement patterns regardless of which way you are compromised.  Let us help you get back to the activities you’ve been missing out on.

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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