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What Is the SI Joint, and is it the culprit of your Lower Back Pain?

Updated on February 17, 2015

SI Joint can cause low back and leg pain


A Patient Presents with SI Joint Dysfunction in Our Office

Recently one of our long time chiropractic patients came back into the office with lower back pain. This patient has been our office for many years now and the last time we saw her was over 6 months ago.

The patient stated that she had been working very long hours at work and it involved a lot of sitting. She noted that the lower back pain was "catching" in nature- meaning that if she moved a certain way, the pain would stop her in her tracks. She was not able to bend forward. She works at a desk job that requires long hours of sitting. Sleeping was very difficult and she was not able to find a comfortable position. She originally came in with pain that she rated as a 9/10 (0 = no pain, 10= worst possible pain). The only way she could sleep was on the couch that was very firm.

Also when she laid flat on her stomach, and relaxed her muscles, the low back pain was excruciating and she was actually starting crying. When I palpated her Sacro- iliac joints they were tender to the touch and misaligned.

We adjusted her and also did muscle work on the lower back area. She felt better that night and also for the whole weekend.She came in again and we adjusted her again very gently. Her pain is getting less and less.

Where is the SI JOINT?

The SI Joint also known as the Sacro Iliac joint connects the Sacrum and the Ilium Bones (otherwise known as the pelvis).


Studies have shown that 20-25% of all lower back pain that is chronic comes from the sacro-iliac joint.

This sacro iliac joint transfers a lot of weight from the upper body to the legs.

When this joint becomes unstable it can be the cause of sharp lower back pain. The pain sometimes radiates into your legs (similar symptoms to a herniated or bulging disc in the lower back).

Proper Alignment of The Pelvis is Important

The bones in the lower back and the SI (Sacro- Iliac) Joints can both misalign. The SI Joint is the location between the ilium (hip bones) and the sacrum.

When you don't have good movement in the SI Joint area, it can cause low back pain, and issues with gait. This can also cause Sciatic pain when you have misalignment of the SI joint. This can cause leg pain. Sometimes the pain stops in the buttocks, other times it goes down to the legs.

Chiropractors often look for alignment in the pelvis. This is very important and one way that chiropractors look at this is one's leg lengths. This tells us how exactly the SI joint is misaligned and ultimately how it needs to be adjusted.

Chiropractic Manipulaton for the SI Joint

Is The SI Joint A Common Source of Pain?

We have a sacro-iliac joint on each side of the body. Each of these joints has a certain degree of motion; it is this joint that connects the spine to the pelvis. When we flex forward (bend forward), for example, part of this motion occurs at the SI joints.

When these joints are irritated there can easily be pain and/or loss of motion. If the joints get restricted and lose movement, inflammation will build putting pressure on nerves. It is this nerve pressure that will cause pain.

You see, the sciatic nerve travels down the body near the SI region. So, as you can imaging pain may be local to the SI region but one may also have leg symptoms.

Try This Low Back Belt for SI Pain and Sciatica

OPTP SI-LOC Support Belt - Small/Medium (670) - Low Back and Pelvic Pain Relief
OPTP SI-LOC Support Belt - Small/Medium (670) - Low Back and Pelvic Pain Relief

This belt is designed for patients with low back pain stemming from the SI Joint. It works to support and compress the SI Joint. You can use the belt while doing everyday activities.


Can You Get Arthritis Here?

You absolutely can get arthritis of the SI joints. This then can contribute to more loss of motion as well as inflammation. This can, as previously mentioned, cause pain or irritation here but also lower down the leg.

On an x-ray arthritis can be discovered in this joint. There will be a small space on the x-ray showing the joint between the sacrum and pelvis (ilium). Arthritis tens to create more jagged edges to the surfaces and allow inflammation to come into the joint.

Here's A Video of the SI Joints...

Some real world experience...

Hi, Dr Matt Bellinger here. I've been a Chiropractor since 2002 and I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that problems at this joint can cause a lot of pain. There isn't a ton of motion here but there are a number of nerves that travel near by. Restoring the motion and getting inflammation out of the area can help significantly.

I also often find trigger points, or muscle knots, just above this joint. This can also be a source of pain as these muscle adhesions can build inflammation and pressurize nerves.

The bone is hard and doesn't give...but muscle does...

Do You Feel A Muscle Knot Here?

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