Yes. Your lower back pain could be related to your SI joint problems. This is not always the case and often you’ll need to do a few tests to see where the issue is originating from.
The best method we have for determining whether the pain is originating from the lower back or the SI joint is through the “cluster of Laslett’s,” test. This test is not a perfect differentiator, however, it is used in clinical practice to give you a higher chance of being accurate during diagnosis.
It’s much more common to have lower back pain than it is to have sacroiliac joint pain, however, if you’re landing on this site it’s like you’re having pain at or around the sacroiliac joint.
In this article, we are going to go over several different topics as it relates to SI joint pain, lower back pain, and a brief overview of treatment options.
What do SI joint problems and pain feel like? What does severe SI joint pain feel like?
Sacroiliac joint pain symptoms can feel dull, achy, or sharp. Usually, there is no numbness or tingling associated with this.
Severe SI joint dysfunction symptoms (I really don’t like that term as it’s not accurate), are usually sharper in nature and make it much more difficult to walk, stand, and accomplish normal, mundane tasks.
Where do you feel sacroiliac joint pain symptoms?
If you feel for the ridge of your pelvic bone, move your fingers towards the center of your spine, then move your fingers down your low back until you feel like your hands drop down into a small crevice.
Once you’ve palpated down move your fingers to the left and right to feel for a slight separation between the pelvis and the sacrum. This is your SI joint. You can feel the pain right on this spot, but it can also migrate into the glute, the sacrum itself, or even present as low back pain.
Can you have lower back pain and sacroiliac joint pain at the same time?
Yes, you can have low back pain and SI joint pain at the same time. I’ve seen it many times at my clinic, although it is more common to have one of these issues versus both at the same time.
Can SI joint pain be triggered by heavy lifting?
Yes, SI joint pain be triggered by heavy lifting.
Lifting heavy is not a bad thing, though. In fact lifting heavy, if you practice it routinely is one of the best things you can do for overall health. It builds muscle, bone, and also trains your nervous system to be ready for lifting heavier loads on a regular basis.
Even if your body didn’t respond well to lifting heavy and you feel you may have either strained your lower back or SI joint this doesn’t mean that you should avoid or never lift heavy again.
The reality is you will have to lift something heavy again, and you can do so confidently by practicing this several times per week once your symptoms are a bit improved.
If you did hurt your lower back or SI joint from lifting heavy, I think this article that I wrote would help give you a more well rounded approach to solving the issue.
Are there any risk factors in developing SI joint pain?
There are no known risk factors in developing SI joint pain, specifically.
General health-promoting behaviors should be followed to give you the best possible chance in reducing your risk of this happening.
- Strength training to build muscle and bone density. This is most effective if you complete this 2x/week and work to a significantly high-intensity level.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Increased weight does increase ones risk of metabolic disease which directly affects how much arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions you could develop. Thankfully there are now newer medications that you can discuss with your doctor to see if you could benefit from medically assisted weight loss.
- 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 5x/week.
- Maintain health-promoting eating habits
- Maintain healthy relationships with your friends, family, and social network.
- Get enough sleep.
All of these points shared above, you likely have heard them all. The difficulty with these health behaviors is that they take time and can be hard to implement. Choose one or two and go from there!
Should I get an x-ray for sacroiliac joint pain or low back pain/
The indication for x rays or an MRI for SI joint pain or low back pain is if you’ve had trauma like a fall from a large height or a major car accident. Additionally, if you have numbness, weakness, tingling, or bowel and bladder changes, this could be indicative of a medical emergency that should prompt you to contact your physician.
In most cases, diagnostic imaging is not indicated if you haven’t had trauma. You should see a physical therapist first.
Is SI joint pain caused by wear and tear?
It’s not clear what the causes of SI joint pain are. It’s possible that there is some amount of wear and tear if the pain is related to arthritis but this is just conjecture.
If the pain came on suddenly or over time without a clear mechanism, it can be very difficult to determine one particular cause.
How would chronic SI joint pain be classified? How would chronic back pain be classified?
Current definitions of chronic pain are defined as pain that has been present for 3 months or more and has been present 50% of those days are longer. Usually, chronic pain severely impacts one’s overall health .
These apply to both chronic back pain and chronic SI joint pain.
What are the best treatment methods for SI joint issues?
When it comes to treatment options, there isn’t a one size fits all. Ultimately, you will need to test out several different movements over the course of several weeks to figure out what works best for you.
I’ll provide a couple of bullet points of treatment exercises and modes of activity and then how to choose what to continue versus what to stop.
- Single leg bridges
- Side-lying hip abduction
- Prone hip extension
- Donkey kicks
I’ll add some links to examples of each of those exercises at some point, but here is how i’d implement this.
I’d first test one of those exercises at a time and see if after doing 10 reps your symptoms are the same, better, or worse. If they are the same or better after doing it, i’d then wait 1 hour, check in with yourself and see how it feels. Then, I would check in again with yourself after 24 hours to see if you feel the same, better, or worse.
If you feel worse after 24 hours, I would then recommend to test a different exercise from the list above. Follow the same protocol as before. If you do this over the course of one week, you’ll have tested out 7 different exercises and you’ll have a decent idea of what movements are symptom producing vs. symptom reducing.
If you come at this as a research project it’s much more likely that you’ll find relief versus allowing it to become chronic.