Your Aching Lower Back: SI Dysfunction

People like to say someone who possesses great strength of character and resolve has “backbone.” The actual spine is the frame on which the rest of your torso and body is built. It keeps you standing tall and helps you move around. As you might expect, then, lower back pain from Sacroiliac (SI) dysfunction can be crippling.

Aching Joints in the Lower Back

Sacroiliac dysfunction, also known as SI dysfunction, is a problem in the joints where your back meets your pelvis. At the lowest point in your lower back is your sacrum. This triangular bone attaches to your right and left ilium bones, which are the two halves of your pelvis. Strong ligaments connect each half of your pelvis to the sacrum and hold everything together. The joints where these bones meet are called the sacroiliac joints.

Now, these two joints aren’t meant to move very much. They move only a few millimeters in any direction. They are designed to support all the weight of your upper body. Problems in these joints, however, can create significant discomfort through your lower back.

What to Expect from SI Dysfunction

Have lower back pain when you bend over?How you feel this discomfort may vary. Typically you feel pain in the lowest part of your back, though you might notice it in your hips or groin and thighs as well. Often bending forward or leaning backwards can trigger this. You may develop discomfort when you’re in any one position for too long, whether that’s sitting, standing, or walking, though lying down may help. You might notice “popping” or feel like one leg is longer than the other, too.

Why Your Back Got Out of Whack

Both too little and too much movement in the SI joints is a problem. In women, pregnancy can actually contribute to SI dysfunction. The body releases a hormone during pregnancy that loosens the ligaments in the hips so they can expand during labor. Unfortunately, this can also allow the joints to move too much and cause you pain. Arthritis is one of the other common culprits. It does the opposite—the joints stiffen and aren’t able to move those normal few millimeters.

Trauma from hard impacts to your hips could be a factor, damaging the joints or their protective layers. This is especially true if it involves a fracture. An abnormal gait can wear on the joints and contribute to arthritis problems. This could also alter the hips’ position and strain the SI joints.

Taking Care of Your Pain

Physical Therapy for Back PainLike all back problems, it’s best if you take care of SI dysfunction early and quickly. The longer you allow it to progress, the harder it may be to manage. Our physical therapists at Castle Pines Physical Therapy and Cherry Creek Physical Therapy can help you take care of the problem. We’ll examine your lower back to determine the exact issue, then help correct it.

Physical therapy is usually the best treatment method. It stretches out tightened muscles and strengthens others, so they better support your back. We can also correct alignment issues and help you address the root problem of the pain in your sacroiliac joints. Your treatment may include the following:

  • Joint mobilization – Techniques to realign bone positioning
  • Muscle energy techniques – Manual therapy so your own muscles realign your bones
  • Core stabilization – Improving your abdominal strength to support your lower back
  • Hip strengthening – Building stability in your hips to support your lower back
  • Stabilization belt – A physical tool to stabilize your lower back while it heals

Your backbone is literally the framework of your body. It helps support you and it definitely keeps you upright. Pain from SI dysfunction threatens that, but you don’t have to suffer. The sooner you take care of problems in your lower back, the easier they are to deal with—and the more likely you can prevent them in the future. Let our team of experts at Castle Pines Physical Therapy help you today. Request a consultation online, or call our Castle Pines and Denver offices at (303) 805-5156.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC