What is the SI joint?
A good way to picture the location of the sacroiliac (SI) joint is to think of the old song:
“…the backbone’s connected to the … hip bone….”
The SI joint is between where the tail-end of your “backbone” (sacrum) meets your hip bones (left ilium and right ilium).
As you can imagine, the SI joints bear a lot of weight. The joints are held stable by very strong ligaments, and it’s the stretching of those ligaments that allows our body to twist and turn.
The area around the sacrum is also one of the main nerve centers of the body, so problems in this area are often the cause of low back pain and hip pain. Because there are two SI joints (left and right), SI joint pain is often localized on the right or left side of your lower back.
What is SI Joint Dysfunction?
SI Joint Dysfunction, also known as SI joint syndrome or SI joint strain, is a condition that causes pain in the SI joints. There can be a range of causes—from biomechanical issues such as a difference in leg length, a twisted pelvis, or an over-pronating gait—to more routine causes such as pregnancy and arthritis. It can also be caused by a trauma. If you’ve ever fallen on your tailbone, your SI joints absorbed the shock.
Diagnosing SI Joint Dysfunction
SI joint dysfunction can be difficult to diagnose. Your physician may rule out common conditions with similar symptoms, such as a herniated disc. Inflammation of the SI joint can interfere with the portion of the sciatic nerve that runs directly in front of the joint, so a diagnosis of sciatica (a stabbing nerve pain in the buttocks and radiating down the leg) can indicate problems in the SI joint. Or you may be told that nothing at all is wrong! This can be very frustrating for a patient experiencing SI joint pain. Ask your doctor to check specifically for SI joint dysfunction in a clinical exam.
An alternative to surgery
Fortunately, many patients with SI joint dysfunction can be helped, and with a fairly conservative treatment. If you’ve been diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction and your doctor is recommending surgery, you would be wise to try an alternative solution first. Surgery to stabilize or fuse the SI joint might be minimally invasive, but surgery should always be the last resort if other solutions are available. Physical therapy, massage therapy, and steroid injections may also provide some relief, but they are usually temporary—and the cost of such measures can be prohibitive.
Hope for sufferers of SI Joint Dysfunction
The SASSI™ System DVD Series is a complete set of four DVDs and a special Foam Roller. The Pilates-based movements—Basic, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced—are designed specifically to address SI Joint Dysfunction. SASSI stands for Strength And Stabilization for SI Joint.