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The SI Joint Belt: A Solution for SI Joint Pain and Dysfunction

The sacroiliac (SI) joint is a vital but often overlooked part of the human body’s structural integrity. It connects the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) to the ilium (the large pelvic bone). Dysfunction in the SI joint can lead to SI joint pain and symptoms of significant discomfort and pain. In this article, we will delve into SI joint pain and dysfunction, discuss why it is common, explore different types of SI joint dysfunction, and understand how physical therapy, along with the use of an SI joint belt, can provide relief.

Understanding SI Joint Pain and Symptoms

The SI joint’s primary function is to absorb and transmit forces between the upper body and the legs while also allowing for a small degree of movement. SI joint dysfunction occurs when this joint becomes inflamed or unstable, leading to various symptoms.

Common signs of SI joint pain, symptoms include:

  • Lower Back Pain: Pain in the lower back, often on one side, is a hallmark symptom of SI joint dysfunction. It may be sharp, stabbing, or aching in nature.
  • Buttock Pain: Discomfort in the buttocks, usually on one side, can radiate from the SI joint. The piriformis muscle is also a culprit of causing SI joint pain due to its attachment from the sacrum to the femur. The pain associated with this can be deep and throbbing.
  • Hip Pain: Pain in the hip area can be a result of SI joint dysfunction, as the joint is closely connected to the hip. There is also an iliac rotation that can occur which places a torsional force on your pelvis as well as a functional leg length discrepancy can occur. This can cause the “longer” leg to hit the ground first and create a limp in your gait. 
  • Leg Pain: SI joint issues can sometimes cause pain that radiates down the leg, resembling sciatica. Usually, the referral pattern will extend from the gluteals down the lateral (outside) portion of the leg. 
  • Pelvic Pain: Pain in the pelvic region, often described as a dull ache, is another common symptom.
  • Pain with Movement: Activities like standing, walking, climbing stairs, or transitioning from sitting to standing can exacerbate SI joint pain. 
  • Stiffness: Individuals with SI joint dysfunction may experience stiffness, particularly in the lower back and hips.

Why SI Joint Dysfunction is Common

Several factors contribute to the common occurrence of SI joint dysfunction:

  • Anatomical Changes: Pregnancy and childbirth can lead to changes in the SI joint’s ligaments and alignment, making women more prone to SI joint pain. Hormones, such as relaxin, are secreted during pregnancy which forces your muscles, joints, and ligaments to relax in preparation for delivery. However, both men and women can experience SI joint dysfunction.
  • Age-Related Changes: As we age, our bodies are no longer as efficient and we can experience muscle wasting and decreased integrity of the connective tissue that makes up our ligaments. Due to this, we are more susceptible to SI joint dysfunction. 
  • Trauma or Injury: Accidents, falls, or injuries that involve the pelvis or lower back can damage the SI joint or its surrounding structures. A common way that there is a positional fault of the pelvis is stepping off the curb too fast and have a jolt to the hip in an upward direction. 
  • Arthritis: Degenerative arthritis or inflammatory conditions like ankylosing spondylitis can affect the SI joint, leading to pain and dysfunction.
  • Repetitive Stress: Activities or professions that require repetitive movements, such as lifting heavy objects or bending, can strain the SI joint.

Types of SI Joint Dysfunction

There are two main types of SI joint dysfunction:

  • Hypomobility (Reduced Mobility): In this type, the SI joint becomes too stiff, limiting its normal movement. This can result from factors like arthritis, trauma, or age-related changes.
  • Hypermobility (Excessive Mobility): Hypermobility occurs when the SI joint becomes overly flexible or unstable. It can be caused by ligamentous laxity, pregnancy, or previous injuries.

How Physical Therapy Can Help SI Joint Dysfunction

Physical therapy is a highly effective approach to managing SI joint pain and dysfunction by alleviating associated pain. Here’s how physical therapy can assist individuals with SI joint issues:

  • Individualized Assessment: Physical therapists perform a thorough evaluation to identify the specific cause and type of SI joint dysfunction in each patient.
  • Tailored Exercise Programs: Physical therapists design personalized exercise programs to improve joint stability, strengthen the muscles around the SI joint, and enhance overall flexibility.
  • Manual Therapy: Techniques like joint mobilization, manipulation, and soft tissue massage can be used to reduce pain and restore proper alignment.
  • Education: Patients receive valuable education on proper body mechanics, posture, and ergonomics to prevent recurrent SI joint issues.
  • Pain Management: Physical therapists can employ modalities such as heat, ice, or electrical stimulation to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • SI Joint Belt: In some cases, physical therapists may recommend the use of an SI joint belt. This specialized belt provides support to the SI joint, stabilizing it and reducing pain during daily activities and exercise.
  • Home Exercise Program: Patients are typically provided with a home exercise program to continue their rehabilitation independently, further improving joint function and preventing future issues.


Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction can cause SI joint pain and symptoms of significant discomfort and disrupt daily life. However, with proper evaluation and physical therapy, individuals can find relief and regain functionality. Physical therapy, along with the use of an SI joint belt when indicated, offers a comprehensive approach to managing SI joint pain and dysfunction, helping individuals return to their active and pain-free lifestyles. If you suspect you have SI joint dysfunction or experience persistent pain in the lower back, buttocks, or hips, consult with a healthcare professional to determine if physical therapy is the right solution for you.

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