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SI Joint Pain: Comprehensive Guide to Relief
CBD Topical
Chronic Pain

 

SI Joint Pain: Comprehensive Guide to Relief

If you’ve ever experienced sacroiliac joint pain, you know just how debilitating it can be. With an estimated 15 to 30 percent of chronic lower back pain stemming from the sacroiliac joint, it's important to understand this often overlooked area.

By clearly understanding how this joint works and the discomfort that can stem from it, you can take proactive steps toward relief. Whether you're new to the term or you've been dealing with this kind of discomfort for a while, this guide will provide valuable insights and help demystify the sacroiliac joint.

What Is the Sacroiliac Joint?

The sacroiliac joint, often called the SI joint, is an important joint in your lower back. This joint is where your spine and pelvis meet, specifically where the sacrum bone at the base of your spine connects to the ilium, part of your pelvic bone.

The SI joint is supported by a network of strong ligaments that stabilize your body and absorb shock from your upper body. Whether you’re walking, climbing the stairs, or lifting a heavy object, these ligaments come into play and are essential for maintaining the joint's stability and functionality.

But what happens when things go awry? Sacroiliac joint pain, or SI joint pain, is a condition that can occur when the joint or its surrounding ligaments become irritated or damaged. This can result from a variety of factors, including injury, pregnancy, or arthritis, causing pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs.

What Is the Anatomy of the Sacroiliac Joint?

To understand what's going on with the SI joint, let's dig deeper into its anatomy. The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum and the ilium. The sacrum is a large, triangular bone at the base of your spine right above your tailbone, and the ilium forms the upper part of your hip bone.

A system of strong ligaments holds together the SI joint. These ligaments are incredibly important, providing stability and limiting the motion of the joint to ensure it can properly support the weight of your upper body.

On top of the ilium, you'll find the iliac crest — the curved ridge you can feel when you put your hands on your hips. This landmark plays an important role in various muscle attachments and is a common site for pain when the SI joint is not functioning as it should.

Understanding the anatomy of the sacroiliac joint is a key step in recognizing the source of your discomfort and exploring potential paths toward relief.

What Can SI Pain Feel Like?

If you're dealing with sacroiliac joint dysfunction, you're probably all too familiar with the discomfort it can cause. It typically presents as a dull, aching pain in the lower back, often radiating to the buttocks, groin, and even down the back of the thighs.

While the symptoms can vary from person to person, they often get worse with activities that put pressure on the SI joint, such as standing or walking for long periods, climbing stairs, or even turning over in bed. You might also notice that the pain is often worse on one side, and it can be particularly noticeable when you transition from sitting to standing.

SI joint dysfunction can also mimic other conditions, such as sciatica, due to the nerve pathways running near the joint. This can make diagnosis a bit tricky, so seeking professional advice is essential if you're experiencing persistent lower back pain.

What Are the Common Causes of Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

When it comes to SI joint pain, several risk factors can make you more susceptible. For instance, a leg length discrepancy, where one leg is longer, can put uneven pressure on the SI joint, leading to pain.

Another common cause of SI joint pain is a herniated disc. This occurs when the soft inner portion of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the surrounding outer layer. While a herniated disc can cause pain on its own, it can also lead to changes in your posture or gait that put additional stress on the SI joint.

Sometimes, SI joint pain may also indicate an infection or other medical condition such as sacroiliitis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, or scoliosis. Speaking to a healthcare professional can help determine if any of these conditions are the source of your discomfort, guiding you in finding the most suitable treatment options to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

When managing SI joint pain, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. The best treatment for you will depend on the root cause of your pain, which is why it's so important to consult with a healthcare provider. They can help diagnose the issue using various methods, such as physical examinations, X-rays, or other radiographic techniques, and guide you toward the most effective treatment options for your unique situation.

Physical therapy is often a go-to option for managing SI joint pain. It can help strengthen the muscles around the joint, improve flexibility, and teach you exercises to help manage and prevent pain.

Joint injections, which may include steroids or anesthetics, can also be beneficial. They can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation and blocking pain signals.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, like NSAIDs or ibuprofen, and prescription medications, such as corticosteroids or muscle relaxants, can also be part of your pain management toolkit. They reduce inflammation and relax muscle spasms that can exacerbate SI joint pain.

Hot and cold therapy is another simple yet effective tool. Heat can help increase blood flow and relax muscles, while cold can reduce inflammation and numb the area, providing temporary relief. Generally, heat is best for chronic pain or stiffness, while cold is more effective for acute injuries or inflammation.

Radiofrequency ablation, which uses heat to disrupt nerve conduction and block pain signals, can be a viable option for those with chronic SI joint pain.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Joint fusion or fusion surgery can help relieve pain by eliminating movement in the problematic joint.

Lastly, don't underestimate the power of low-impact activities like swimming or cycling. They can keep you active without putting excessive strain on your SI joint.

Can CBD Help With SI Joint Discomfort?

You've probably heard about CBD's potential benefits, but did you know it could also help ease feelings of SI joint discomfort? CBD, or cannabidiol, interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a key role in easing feelings of discomfort and maintaining homeostasis. Before turning to CBD, make sure to consult your healthcare provider to rule out any health conditions. Your doctor can work with you to craft a treatment plan. If more serious causes of your discomfort have been ruled out, CBD may be a great way to support your overall SI joint comfort and wellness.

The ECS has cannabinoid receptors around the body, including around the SI joint and nearby ligaments. When you use CBD, it can interact with these receptors, helping to ease feelings of discomfort temporarily.

Incorporating CBD into your routine can be as simple as applying a topical balm to the affected area. Topicals can be applied directly to the skin, allowing the CBD to support endocannabinoids at the nearby cannabinoid receptors to offer fast-acting support.

At Muscle MX, we offer two CBD balms — Activate and Recovery. Activate CBD Balm provides a warming sensation to support healthy blood flow and ease feelings of discomfort, which is ideal for use before workouts or at the start of your day.

Our Recovery CBD Balm, meanwhile, uses menthol to provide a cooling effect, perfect for post-workout or when experiencing acute discomfort. Both balms can support those experiencing feelings of tension in the SI joint.

What Are Some Tips for Living with Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

Living with sacroiliac joint pain can be difficult, but remember, you're not alone. Chronic pain can extend beyond the lower back, affecting the upper body, the lumbar spine, and day-to-day activities. However, there are plenty of strategies to help manage these pain signals and live a more comfortable life.

Here are some key strategies:

Maintaining Range of Motion

Regular gentle exercises are key to keeping your joints flexible and preventing stiffness. One muscle to pay particular attention to is the piriformis muscle near the SI joint. When this muscle becomes tight or imbalanced, it can often contribute to discomfort.

By incorporating specific stretches into your routine, such as the supine piriformis stretch, where you lie on your back and gently pull your knee towards your opposite shoulder, you can help stretch and strengthen this muscle.

Maintain Good Posture

Sitting and standing with proper alignment can reduce pressure on the SI joint and help alleviate pain. When sitting, ensure your feet are flat on the floor, and your back is well-supported. Keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet, and avoid slouching when standing. These simple corrections can make a significant difference in managing your discomfort.

Support Mental Wellness with CBD

Living with chronic discomfort can take a toll on your mental wellness. While CBD topicals can temporarily ease feelings of physical discomfort, CBD oils and gummies can also support your mental well-being. They work with endocannabinoids like anandamide in the brain to support you during challenges associated with discomfort.

Remember, managing sacroiliac joint pain involves taking care of your mental health. With these strategies, you're well-equipped to begin prioritizing your wellness.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the source of your pain is the first step toward finding relief. From physical therapy and medication to simple home remedies and CBD products, numerous ways exist to ease feelings of discomfort and support a healthy, happy life.

Check out our full range of soothing CBD wellness products at Muscle MX. We're here to support you every step of the way.

Sources:

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction in Patients With Low Back Pain | PMC

Sacroiliac joint pain | Mayo Clinic Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

The endocannabinoid system: Essential and mysterious | Harvard Health

Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System | PMC

Brain activity of anandamide: a rewarding bliss? | PMC

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