By Effie Koustas, MSPT
The sacroiliac joint, or SI joint, can be a source of debilitating pain. The sacrum (tailbone) and ilia (pelvic bones) come together to form right- and left-sided SI joints. When these joints are aggravated, you will hear people describe this either as SI-joint dysfunction, syndrome, strain, or inflammation. Regardless of what it is called, pain can be felt in your low back, into your buttocks or hip/groin and even into your leg. The good news is that regardless of where your pain is it is a common condition, especially in pregnancy, which can be treated.
During pregnancy, because of the increased hormone circulation in the body, the ligaments throughout your body become lax. This is necessary to allow the pelvic joints to move during childbirth. Your SI joints are ordinarily very stable but this extra motion places added stress on the ligaments and allows for the joint surfaces to shear, resulting in increased wear and tear. The ensuing pain can significantly impair day-to-day activities such as walking, standing, or even sitting or lying down.
As with any condition, it is best to have it evaluated shortly after it begins before it impacts your activity level. Your alignment can be altered, muscles can become imbalanced and guarded, or weakness can develop. Physical therapy can help by adjusting your alignment, and prescribing exercises to increase your range of motion, flexibility and strength to correct those imbalances. Learning how to engage your core abdominal muscles properly will help stabilize the joints and education about proper postures, body mechanics and activity modification will decrease stress on the joints. We will also tell you when to use heat or ice, and may fit you with an SI-support brace. The brace helps stabilize the area while joints are inflamed, allowing you to function throughout the day.
You will then be able to successfully manage your symptoms throughout your pregnancy.