Fort Collins Sacroiliac Joint Pain
The sacroiliac joints, also known as SI joints, are the two largest joints found within your pelvis and lower back. They are long joints that bear much of your body weight and move with every step you take. Because of their role in your body’s structure and motion; they are prone to becoming contributors to hip and low back pain. As a chiropractor, I have seen countless patients with sacroiliac pain in Fort Collins. If you are alive and like to have fun, chances are you have injured a SI joint more than once.
Where Are the Sacroiliac Joints & What Do They Do?
The upper margins of these joints are located within your lower back, about two inches left and right of center, at the top of your pelvis. If you have the two classic ‘dimples’ in your lower back, these will serve as perfect landmarks as they are directly atop the upper portion of each joint. From here, they descend down and inward several inches to form the joint between your sacrum and ilia (the two large pelvic bones). The health of these joints is crucial to a happy, active life. SI joints move with most hip actions and are necessary for activities such as walking, running and child birth to name a few.
How Does Sacroiliac Injury Occur & What Does The Pain Feel Like?
Injuries to these two joints can occur in a traumatic sense, such as a slip and fall on an icy Fort Collins sidewalk. Or they can be caused over an extended period of time due to a repetitive motion or action such as carrying a wallet in your back pocket or sleeping on your sides at night. Regardless of how it happens; an undesirable force placed upon the joint can misalign it in one of several ways that severely reduces its range of motion and increases the shearing force exerted on the joint. Once this occurs, the SI joint will often swell with fluid and irritate the nearby spinal nerve roots.
Sacroiliac joint pain is typically felt directly within the joint itself, which is about two inches left or right of the midline where the low back meets the hips. Most patients refer to it as low back pain. Sometimes it will radiate into the buttock or down the back of the thigh. This painful radiation pattern can mimic a bulging or herniated lumbar disc and is often confused as such. The spreading of pain into the leg is due to the proximity of the sciatic nerves to the two SI joints. The pain itself can range from achy to sharp within the SI joint. If pain is radiating into the buttock, thigh or leg it is often described by my Fort Collins patients as either ‘dull and achy’ or ‘sharp and shooting’. These joints are large, which allows them to swell considerably when injury occurs making them very sore and achy, especially with direct pressure or movement. Getting up from a seated position is often one of the more painful movements. Once injured; these joints can easily become chronic sources of pain and dysfunction.
How to Care For Sacroiliac Joint Injuries
Regardless of how the SI joint was injured, it first needs to be ‘set’ or adjusted to restore proper alignment and motion within the joint. This allows the healing process to begin and proceed optimally. To start, a spinal x-ray is typically recommended to examine the condition of the joint as well as to confirm exactly how the two bones of the joint are misaligned. Once the specific misalignment is identified, the best chiropractic adjustment can be given to the problematic joint. An adjustment this specific allows pressure to instantly leave the joint and proper function to begin to return. Chiropractic is essential in the healing and rehabilitation of sacroiliac joints.
Injured SI joints should be ICED, not heated! Direct prolonged heat brings more edema (fluid) into the joint, causing increased inflammation. It may feel good while you apply the heat, but trust me; it won’t help your condition. Ice on the other hand pushes swelling out of the joint and decreases inflammation. Apply an ice-pack wrapped in a towel directly to the area of pain for fifteen minutes and allow one hour between applications. You can repeat this cycle as many times as needed. If your SI injury is substantial, you should be icing it frequently every day.
Nutritional Building Blocks
The healing of sacroiliac joint injuries can often be greatly accelerated by taking a few affordable nutritional supplements. Ligaplex is the most common supplement I recommend to my Fort Collins patients with sacroiliac pain. It is very useful for healing and nourishing joints throughout the body including knees and shoulders. High quality fish oil should also be taken. Fish oil is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory agents. It also nourishes nervous tissue including the sacral nerve roots involved with an inflamed SI joint.
Depending on the severity of injury, you may need to take a break from some of your normal activities while the joint heals. This could be as short as a few days or as long as several months. During this rest period, the joint is provided the time it needs for tissue repair and stabilization. Don’t incapacitate the joint – some movement is essential to healing. Just ensure that no forces or movements are put into the joint that could set it back even further.
If you are suffering with Sacroiliac pain and dysfunction in Fort Collins, call our clinic today and let Dr. Cook assess your situation. SI joint problems are one of his specialties!
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