Maybe a good place to start would be to define what the SI Joint is and why it is so important before delving into how to figure out if it is misaligned. So, let’s explore a bit.
The SI Joint is the same as the Sacroiliac Joint and it is part of the pelvis. It is formed by the joints on either side of your sacrum or tailbone with the bones of the pelvis called the ilium. Hence the name sacroiliac.
Your pelvis is the foundation of your spine. The SI joints link the pelvis to the lumbar spine above and the hips below. They support the weight of the entire body above and transmit force and movement from the hips as you walk.
The SI joint is different from every other joint in the body. For many years the medical profession did not believe that the SI joints move. Yet, chiropractors have been adjusting the SI joints since the early 1900s.
Small Movement, Big Impact
I operate with the belief that everything in the body has a purpose and an ideal function. When it comes to joints they have one overriding function and that is to provide motion. When any joint in the body becomes misaligned or restricted that loss of motion must be compensated by other joints.
In the pelvis when an SI joint becomes misaligned it loses proper mobility and the compensation happens in a few different areas.
- The opposite SI joint moves more to compensate for the loss of motion
- Uneven motion takes place above the pelvis at the junction of the lumbar spine and sacrum called the lumbosacral joint
- The hip joints below take on uneven stress due to the loss of shock absorption in the Sacroiliac Joints
Pain from SI Joint Misalignment
For illustration purposes let’s assume the left SI joint becomes misaligned. Where might you experience pain or discomfort as a result of that?
First, there is often no pain for a long, long time until the body is unable to further compensate for the imbalances. If there is trauma there is often immediate pain but even that pain can dissipate and leave an SI Joint Misalignment.
But, assuming there is some pain or discomfort where would that be? There is no one place you would experience pain. It depends on the balance, movement, and alignment of the joints of your hips and lumbar spine.
It would also depend on your activities, lifestyle, and general health and fitness. The more common places to experience pain as a result of SI joint misalignment are:
- The Right SI joint might become inflamed as a result of the excess movement it has to undergo as a result of the misaligned left SI joint.
- Either R or L hip might become painful as a result of the altered gait and increased forces due to the misaligned SI joint.
- The bottom of the low back around the lumbosacral joint at L5 often becomes painful due to the imbalance in the pelvis.
- The junction between the mid and lower back at the bottom of the ribs often tightens up in response to the SI joint restriction and misalignment.
While those are all common possibilities there is no single pain pattern that identifies an SI joint misalignment. Sometimes the misaligned SI joint is tender to the touch and sometimes the opposite SI joint is tender. And, often neither of them is very tender.
This underscores the reality that pain is a very poor indicator of how anything is working in the body. You can have absolutely no pain and be very sick with stage four cancer or you can be in severe pain that poorly correlates with what is going on.
2 Sure Signs Your SI Joint is Misaligned
In reality you need a chiropractor to assess your spine and pelvis to determine whether or not your Sacroiliac Joints are misaligned. And, if that misalignment is the cause of imbalances or a compensation to other imbalances.
Here are the surest signs of SI joint misalignment. You will want someone to assist you with this and a full length mirror is also recommended.
Sure Sign #1: Unlevel Pelvis – stand facing the mirror with your assistant behind you. Have them put each hand on top of each side of your pelvis. Is one hand higher than the other?
Often the imbalance is as much as an inch or more. This is one sure sign of a misalignment of one of the SI joints. You can also see other impacts of this misalignment by looking at the shoulders and head. In the head the ear lobes are often easy landmarks. Are the shoulders and head imbalanced?
Sure Sign #2: Uneven Motion – I can’t show you how to assess movement of the SI joints but a misalignment or loss of motion often causes other movement imbalances.
Stand in front of the mirror again. You are going to raise each knee up to waist height by flexing your hip, like you are marching in place. As you do this pay attention in the mirror to your hips or body having to shift to one side more when lifting one leg.
You should be able to stand straight and lift each leg up. Is it more challenging to lift one leg more than the other? Do you have to shift your pelvis to the side or raise one side of your pelvis to lift one leg?
Any of these are signs you have a misaligned SI joint. Now, what needs to happen?
There’s a lot of confusion by the public about what chiropractic is, how it works, and when it should be used. Most people understandably associate chiropractic with the back since chiropractors work on the spine.
That’s true but the real focus of chiropractic is on the nervous system. The nervous system is the master control and coordination system and any interference to the nervous system is interference to the function of the body.
Chiropractors that focus on balance and correction work to bring the spine, the nervous system, and the body back into balance and reduce any irritation and interference to the nervous system. The SI joints and pelvis are especially important as this is the foundation of the spine. If there is a misalignment here, it will result in compensations up the entire spine to the top of the neck.
Make sure to subscribe to my social media pages where I regularly post tips, insights and valuable information.
Schedule your first visit here: Life Chiropractic