Sacroiliac joint dysfunction in pregnancy

by Dr. Alison Gault

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is one of the conditions that fall under the banner of ‘pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy’ (PGP). Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJ) occurs when the muscles that support the joint are not functioning as normal but the ligaments are.  These muscles are tight and not contracting in the normal pattern resulting in muscular pain and joint inflammation.  Pain is most commonly experienced in near one or both of the dimples of your low back, these indicate the site of the sacroiliac joints.  Some of the sacroiliac joint dysfuntion symptoms of this condition are similar to those occurring with sacroiliac joint instability but are generally of a much milder nature.

Primary Symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction in pregnancy

Pain is experienced at the dimples of your lower back on either one or both sides. The nature of the pain is a dull ache that can occasionally grab with certain movements such as moving from sitting to standing, lifting or climbing stairs.  This sacroiliac joint dysfunction pain is annoying but is not debilitating.  Generally the pain is reproduced by putting pressure in the area around the dimples which is the location of your sacroiliac joint.

Secondary Symptoms

You may also experience:

  • Tightness and pain in the gluteal or buttock muscles.
  • Pain around the hip region.
  • Radiating pain into the lateral aspect of the thighs.
  • You may get pain relief with stretching and massage of the gluteal muscles.

The symptoms are similar to sacroiliac joint instability  but are not as severe or debilitating. 

What is happening and why?

Asymmetrical movement is occurring within the pelvis due to tight muscles preventing the sacroiliac joints from moving freely. This asymmetrical movement causes pain, inflammation and protective muscle spasm.

There are many causes for the primary muscular tightness such as repetitive strain, poor posture, a previous injury, muscle weakness, compensation and a poor muscle firing pattern.  The pain of sacroiliac joint dysfunction on average starts in the 18th week of pregnancy.

For information on treatment and prevention of sacroiliac joint dysfunction in pregnancy, follow the link.[title text=”Help your SIJ joint” style=”center”]

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