A Leading Cause Of Disability

An aching back is one of the most popular reasons that people miss work or visit the doctor. Back pain is the leading cause of disability in the US, and most people experience discomfort in the back at some point in a lifetime. The reasons for low back pain can vary. If the pain is concentrated in the low back and buttocks, the cause may be sacroiliac (SI) joint pain.

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Understanding the sacroiliac joint

SI joint pain can be similar to other types of back pain. For example, herniated discs or hip injuries can have similar symptoms. The SI joints can be found where the spine connects to the hip. When looking at someone from behind, these joints often look like two dimples in the lower back. Osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, pregnancy, and abnormal walking patterns can all lead to SI joint discomfort. Try these 3 exercises for decreasing this pain.

1. Core bridges

Strengthening the core can help to stabilize the muscles around the SI joint. Core bridges can also help to increase the glute muscles, which also support the low back. To practice the core bridge, lay flat on the back with the knees bent and feet firmly planted on the floor. With the arms by the sides, slowly lift the hips off the floor while keeping the core tight. Hold for 3-5 seconds and lower. Repeat 10 times a few days per week.

2. Lower back rotations

Gentle spinal twists can help to relieve the low back pain associated with the sacroiliac joint. To start, lay on the back with the knees bent and feet planted on the floor. Extend the arms out to the sides to make a T shape. Keeping the shoulders firmly planted, roll the knees to one side and hold for 5-10 seconds. Then move the knees to the other side for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

3. Figure 4 stretch

This move will help to release tension in the outer hips. Again, lie on the back with the knees bent and the feet planted. Cross the right ankle over the left thigh. Gently press on the right knee to create a figure 4 stretch in the legs. There should be a stretching sensation at the right hip. If this stretch is not intense enough, reach through the legs to hold onto the hamstring of the left leg. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Other treatment options

Diagnosing SI joint pain can be a challenge. Because these joints are so deep within the body, the pain can be hard to detect. If at-home stretches and exercises are not working, a pain management specialist may recommend steroid injections, physical therapy, or nerve ablation. For more information about treating low back pain, speak with a pain management specialist.

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