Every year there are thousands of individuals suffering from lower back pain that are misdiagnosed. These people are told that because they have chronic lower back pain they have been “injured” and there is most likely a root cause that can be found after taking X-Rays, MRI’S, cat scans, or any other serious test. If those don’t reveal anything they will recommend you go see a specialist and in many cases even those individuals can misinterpret the problem and diagnose the wrong thing. In some cases these tests do reveal something and the doctor is able to provide beneficial information that points to a herniated, slipped, arthritis filled, or slightly misplaced vertebrae being the root cause of your pain. From there they will most likely recommend physical therapy or if it’s bad enough will recommend surgery. However for the other vast majority of cases there is a patient experiencing lower back pain without having any vertebrae damage or trauma induced musculoskeletal issues. In this case there can be another answer.
It’s the S.I. joint otherwise known as the sacroiliac joint. To keep it blunt and simple the S.I. joint is located where the sacrum and pelvis meet/connect. This joint is essential in controlling the shock absorption from weight bearing activities and relieves some of the strain placed on the lumbar spine (your lower back) during these activities. It takes the force and weight and transfers them between the upper body and legs. Without this joint working properly and becoming immobile or stiff the human body will have a hard time distinguishing where to place the load of the weight. In return muscles and other pieces of the musculoskeletal system can be negatively affected because now they will be in charge of handling some of the load. You can see how this presents a problem and without it being diagnosed properly much more severe back issues such as those relating to the vertebrae can occur.
This S.I. joint is surrounded by plenty of major muscles and ligaments. What are these muscles and ligaments I speak of? They are muscles and ligaments found in the hamstring, hip, glute, and lower back complex. If these muscles are tight, weak, or too over or underactive the S.I. joint can become wacked out and start to snap in and out of place. Why is that a problem? That’s a problem because although it might not seem like it’s a big deal right away the more you let an S.I. that’s out of place hang around the more inflammation will gather and form in the joint itself. This can cause serious spasms, lock ups, and painful throbbing that will disguise itself as a strict “back issue”. When in reality it’s not just the back that’s at fault. It’s the fault of many more muscles that seem innocent to the average person, doctor, or therapist. If you are experiencing symptoms that seem to be S.I. related you need to identify these problematic muscles through a series of strength and flexibility testing. By doing so you can discover which muscles are the weak or strong ones and conclude which are either underactive or overactive. Then you can proceed to identify which of the muscles are tight and proceed to loosen them up through myofascial release and serious stretching. Finally you can take the most important step of all and correct all of your poor movement patterns such as sitting improperly, bending over improperly, squatting improperly, and all around lifting objects improperly. These poor movements you have most likely developed overtime and have ignored up until the day your pain got so bad that you no longer could. By identifying these movements and correcting them you can prevent your muscles from weakening, tightening, and becoming over or underactive. Then if you maintain those habits you have yourself a recipe for success and lower back pain free movement.