If your back has been hurting lately after sitting at your game chair for hours, it could be due to sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. The SI joint pain is most commonly felt in the low back and buttock but can also be referred to the thigh and leg. If numbness and tingling with associated leg weakness is present, an alternative diagnosis should be considered, such as sciatic nerve pain (LINK TO SCIATICA). Sacroiliac pain can be aggravated with prolonged sitting or standing, standing on one leg, stair climbing, going from sitting to stand, and running.
Your Sacroiliac Joint
You have two SI joints, one on each side of the sacrum, the lower portion of your spine, and they are formed by the union of the sacrum and iliac crest, a part of your pelvic bone. They connect your lower limb to your torso and, therefore, function to accept and transfer the weight of your upper body to your legs. Unlike other joints in your body, the SI joints are less mobile to serve its primary purpose as a shock absorber against the compressive forces moving between your upper body and your pelvis.
Understanding Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
The SI joints allow minimal movement. Dysfunction occurs if there have been too much movements (hypermobility) of the SI joints from loose ligaments or if movements become too little (hypomobility) due to tight ligaments and muscles. Gamers may experience sacroiliac joint pain from prolonged sitting, causing hypomobility issue, or from the uneven sitting posture, resulting in excessive stress on either one of the sacroiliac joints and causing malalignment of the joint surfaces. When these joints become inflamed, it results in a condition known as sacroiliitis.
Symptoms of sacroiliac joint pain include:
- Pain in the lower back area or gluteal (buttock) region, usually on one side but may occur on both sides.
- Pain may spread to the hips, buttocks, and groin, as well as to the upper back or side of the thigh.
- Pain may mimic sciatica, radiating down the legs with associated numbness and tingling sensation.
- Pain that gets worse with movement, such as bending over, or sitting/standing for prolonged period with uneven weight‑bearing. The pain improves when lying down.
- Stiffness of the lower back, hips, pelvis, and groin area.
- Feeling of the pelvis, lower back, and leg instability, such as buckling or giving way during standing, walking, or from moving from sitting to standing.
TREATING THE ACUTE SACROILIAC JOINT PAIN
Initial remedies for sacroiliac joint pain may include the following:
Short Rest Periods: The most important consideration for acute onset of SI joint pain is avoiding the activities that cause the symptoms. While rest is recommended, it should be within 1-2 days to avoid increasing the stiffness and pain.
Try Ice or Heat:Initially, you may try to apply cold or hot therapies on your low back and pelvic areas, whichever you feel best to alleviate the pain. Doing so will help reduce the stiffness caused by muscle spasm.
Pharmacologic Treatment:Over-the-counter pain medications and NSAIDs may be prescribed in cases of mild to moderate pain and discomfort. Always ask for a prescription from a doctor to avoid any adverse effects, including addiction and reliance.
Supportive Braces:When the cause of pain is due to hypermobility, a pelvic brace may be used to stabilize the sacroiliac joint.
Sacroiliac Joint Injections:A local anesthetic, like lidocaine, may be injected with anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation and sacroiliac joint pain.
How to Use Recovapro on Sacroiliac Joint Pain
The following procedure addresses muscular imbalances of the SI joint dysfunction using a Recovapro massage gun. Use the ball-head or bullet-head attachment, whichever is appropriate for a technique. The bullet-head is ideal for stripping and trigger pointing procedures while the round-head can be used with sweeping techniques. Choose an intensity that is appropriate for each treatment and limit the application to 60-90 minutes per area.
- Apply sweeping cross‑fiber technique over the gluteal (buttock) area starting from just below the lower back moving side to side and going down diagonally towards the hip.
- Deep stripping to the gluteus maximus is performed along the direction of the fibers. From just below the lower back at the base of the gluteal muscles, stroke diagonally towards the hip with increased pressure.
- Static compression is applied to areas of trigger points. Hold the gun against a spot and keep it there for a few seconds until tissue release is felt.
Lower Back Muscle
- Apply longitudinal and sweeping cross‑fiber over the lower lumbar muscles to lumbar muscles just outside the midline (spine) to reduce tension on the myofascial tissues spanning the SI joint.
- Deep longitudinal stripping techniques are applied to the same muscles with increased massage gun pressure.
- Deep longitudinal stripping of the hamstring may relieve tension in this muscle group, which contributes to sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Strip along the muscle length with added pressure. You may also perform sweeping techniques, longitudinal or cross-fiber, to warm up the muscles.