Chiropractic for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

A painful sacroiliac joint is one of the more common causes of mechanical low back pain. It is unclear why this joint can become so painful but most people who suffer from this problem can reduce the pain and manage the problem with simple methods.

What is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?

The sacroiliac (SI) joint is situated between the sacrum and the iliac bone (“sacroiliac” joint). It seems that the main function of this joint is to act as a shock absorber lessening stress on the pelvis and spine. These joints may be identified as two small dimples on each side of the lower back at the belt line. The SI joint is one of the larger joints in the body. Very little motion occurs in the SI joint. However, the motion that does occur is a combination of sliding, tilting and rotation involving a couple of millimeters, one way and two or three degrees the other. Usually the older an individual becomes, the more inflexible the joint becomes.

Causes of SIJ

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction may be caused by

  • Abnormal leg alignment
  • Bacterial infection
  • Development of arthritic conditions (gout, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Injury due to accident (automobile impact or physically falling)
  • Pregnancy


Common symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction include low back and buttock pain affecting one or both sides of the SI joint. The pain may radiate down the leg to the foot or into the groin area. People often feel muscle spasms in one or both of their buttocks making it uncomfortable to sit flat in a chair.

Chiropractic Care for Sacroiliac

In a recent research study three treatment options for SIJ-related leg pain were compared: physical therapy, chiropractic manual therapy, and intra-articular injections of corticosteroids. Each method was analyzed for effectiveness at six weeks and again at twelve weeks. Results were designated as either a success or failure, based on the increase or decrease of symptoms as well as pain scores.

Researchers found that manual therapy is the best-ranking choice for treating leg pain associated with the SIJ. The success rate for chiropractic manual therapy was 72% compared to 50% for corticosteroid injections and just 20% for physiotherapy. Physical therapy and injections did not result in any significant pain relief while manual therapy was found to produce a significant improvement on pain scores.

Due to these findings, the study authors concluded that chiropractic is the best first treatment choice in patients with SIJ-related leg pain.





Visser L, Woudenberg N, et al. Treatment of the sacroiliac joint in patients with leg pain: a randomized-controlled trial. European Spine Journal 2013 [online]. doi: 10.1007/s00586-013-2833-2.