I recently had a patient, Terri, come to my chiropractic office who was experiencing excruciating lower back pain and sought pain relief. She said she had had mild, frequent episodes of back discomfort for about 10 years, but it had really flared up in the past week. She said that her increased pain had just come on for no apparent reason. She hadn’t had any falls nor had been doing any strenuous activity. As we were discussing her history, she noted that, over the years, a number of people had mentioned her hips and pelvis look crooked. One person said she walked “all twisted, like John Wayne.” When she had her pant cuffs hemmed, her seamstress said there was a big difference in leg lengths. She herself said she always felt like she was carrying more weight on her right leg than the left.
As I further evaluated her and observed her standing posture I saw that she indeed, was “crooked.” Her hips were twisted backwards towards the right. Her right hip looked higher than the left. She also carried more weight on her right leg than the left. Next, I palpated, which means felt with my hands, her lower spine and pelvis. We found she had no tenderness or muscle spasm of the lower spine. However, she had extreme tenderness and muscle spasm in an area call the right sacroiliac joint.
This article will describe sacroiliac joint (SI) pain and the reason why it causes many people to have pain of the back. It will also discuss how SI joint pain can be relieved.
The sacroiliac joint is actually a joint, not of the spine, but of the pelvis. The pelvis is made of three large separate bones in the lower part of the body. They are in between the spine and the legs. The three bones are made up of the central tail bone which is called the sacrum. The two outer wing bones are called the iliac bones. Between the sacrum and the iliac bones is a joint. This joint is a gliding joint. When we walk, for instance, the sacroiliac joints glide slightly back-and-forth. There are strong ligaments which allow the SI joints to move just the right amount. They should move freely, but not excessively. There are also many small and large muscles attached to the bones of the pelvis.
Problems occur when the pelvis and sacroiliac joints becomes misaligned. This can be through a single trauma like a fall or extreme activity like a long period of heavy snow shoveling or an extended period of raking leaves. However, sometimes the SI joints become out of alignment due to an accumulation of irritating factors.
Terri’s problem came from the latter. She has been a caregiver for a couple of decades. Her job entailed helping physically disabled people to get about. She sometimes had to lift and steady people who could not to move well on their own. As a result, Terri sustained a series of micro traumas that eventually caught up with her.
As a practicing chiropractor of 37 years, I’ve seen this condition of back discomfort many times. The solution lies in what is called a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic adjustments work to realign the sacroiliac joints and bring about back pain relief. Chiropractic adjustments are very safe and gentle.
I am pleased to report that after receiving a couple of chiropractic treatments a week for three weeks Terri had complete relief of her back discomfort. She was also given exercises to perform to stretch and strengthen her back as well as ideas to minimize stress to her back that occurred from the duties of her job. Needless to say, Terri was very happy and thankful for the pain relief gained and I was happy that she could return to helping others less fortunate.
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