What is the sacroiliac joint and why does it hurt?

In a normal week in my clinics, I would see around 20% of my clients having some form of sacroiliac joint problem. Usually, the clients have no idea there is a problem there, and present with a variety of symptoms ranging from leg pain, to neck, and shoulder pains and everything between. Thankfully the Bowen Fascial Release Technique is effective in helping the body repair the tension pulling on the pelvis and sacroiliac joint. What is the sacroiliac joint then? It is the joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis, which are connected by strong ligaments. In humans, the sacrum supports the spine and is supported in turn by an ilium on each side.

Here is a list of typical characteristics of sacroiliac joint pain or asymmetry:

  • When the pain is coming from the bones of the pelvic girdle, patients often report continuous pain; sometimes it is sharp, burning or achy
  • Pain can be felt in the lower back, coccyx, stomach, sides or back of the legs, groin and buttocks

The following Activities of Daily Living may become difficult:

  • Turning over in bed
  • Standing for a long time
  • Sitting for a long time
  • Bending
  • Getting up from a couch or chair, especially if it is low
  • Walking
  • Walking up and down stairs
  • Lying in the same position for a long time
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Taking care of a child
  • Vacuuming, ironing, washing dishes and cooking
  • Getting in and out of a car
  • Driving
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Symptoms can also include menstrual pain, digestive problems, bloating, pain while urinating or defecating and incontinence

To test if your pelvic girdle (SI joint) is causing your pain:

Active Straight Leg Raise:

  • Lie on your back with both legs straight; try to lift one leg 6” off the floor and then lower it
  • Then try lifting the other leg
  • If this exercise is difficult, hurts, or is unequal one side to the next, confirm the test by repeating it while exerting pressure on both sides of the hips, pushing the hips together
  • If the active straight leg improves with compression of the hips, there is likely an imbalance in the sacroiliac joints

Active One Leg Balance Test :

  • Standing, try to move a light object, such as a piece of paper, forward along the floor with your foot
  • With pelvic asymmetry or injury, this exercise will often be easier with one leg than the other

Active Groin Stretch:

  • Lie on your back with your legs outstretched
  • Bend the knees but keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Try to move your knees apart while keeping the soles of your feet together. If this is difficult, painful, or uneven, you likely have asymmetrical pelvic bones

Sitting on a Hard Chair:

  • Sit on a hard chair for a while
  • If you experience pain in your tailbone, it is usually caused by tension in the bottom of your pelvis, often secondary to pelvic asymmetry


Reference: Relieving Pelvic Pain During and After Pregnancy by Cecile Rost