Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is one of the most common conditions in gamers that affects the region of the lower back. It is generally easy to manage, but SI joint dysfunction may lead to other aches and pains throughout the body including the feet, knees, hips, or spine.
The sacroiliac (SI) joints are where the two halves of the pelvis connect to the spine. SI joint dysfunction is the term used when describing restriction or fixation of the SI joints.
Restriction in these joints is common, but if left untreated, the restriction may cause a cascade of other issues. For example, restriction can alter gait (walking pattern), which may affect the hips, knees, ankles, or feet.
Alternatively, restriction may cause an imbalance where one half of the pelvis is higher or lower than the other side. This imbalance, known as pelvic obliquity, may cause a mild corrective curve in the spine to keep your head upright. This is known as functional scoliosis, and this may cause pain and tightness in different areas of the spine.
It’s important to know some basic anatomy of the lower portion of the spine and the pelvis in order to understand sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
The weight bearing bone at the base of your spine called the sacrum. This is a large, triangular shaped bone that sits like a keystone between your pelvic pones.
You have two pelvic bones—one on each side. The pelvic bones have three parts, and the upper portion is called the ilium. The sacrum connects to the ilium on each side, hence sacroiliac or SI joint.
With SI joint dysfunction, the ligaments that support the SI joints and the surrounding musculature will also be affected. These muscles include, but are not limited to:
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is the fixation or restriction of the SI joints, which will generally be tender or painful on its own. A joint fixation or restriction occurs when the joint capsule becomes hypertonic or goes into spasm.
Along with the SI joint pain, the fixation will cause a disruption in the movement pattern of the pelvis & hips as well as the lumbar spine.
The disrupted movement pattern creates inappropriate tension in the muscles that move the hips and lumbar spine, especially the gluteal muscles and lumbar erector spinae.
With fixation of the SI joints, your hips need to move further or in a different pattern to create the normal range of motion required for walking or maintaining balance in other body positions.
When muscles are doing more work than normal, or being stretched further than normal, they become irritated. Irritated muscles will present as tight or hypertonic and may develop trigger points which will both be painful.
In addition to a painful, fixated joint and tight, painful muscles, the ligaments that support the SI joints will be mildly overstretched, and these will become tender or painful as well.
If you’re affected by sacroiliac joint dysfunction, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Other findings may include:
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction in gamers will usually occur due to chronic poor or awkward posture.
The simplest way to prevent sacroiliac joint dysfunction is to monitor your posture. Visit our page on gaming posture to learn the most appropriate way to sit and protect yourself from injuries or ailments.
Since the most common mechanism of injury in gaming is prolonged, static or poor posture, it is also important to take breaks and get moving! Visit our page on how to appropriately break up your routine to protect yourself.
To aid in preventing your muscles from becoming tight or hypertonic, there are a few stretches you can do:
Seated rotation stretch
This stretch is a simple, yet effective stretch for the lumbar erector spinae
Perhaps the simplest stretch of them all, this stretch is a passive position to effectively stretch the lumbar erector spinae
In addition to stretching, it’s important to make sure the SI joints are moving.
These exercises do not need to be performed with the goal of increasing muscle mass, power, or significant strength. Instead, the goal is to activate these muscles and get the SI joints moving.
An activation exercise for the gluteus medius
As chiropractors, we have a pretty straight forward approach to rehabilitation of sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
First, address the issues that cause the problem. Education is always an important factor in recovery. Check your posture!
Next, address the hypertonicity or spasm in the surrounding musculature. In practice, we use manual therapy techniques, stretching techniques, and therapeutic exercises to achieve this goal.
Outside of treatment, we prescribe home care exercises and stretches to continue to goals of relieving hypertonicity or spasm.
Lastly, adjust the SI joints to release the restriction and restore movement. In practice, the most common techniques include side posture adjustments or pelvic drop adjustments.
The adjustment itself is often enough to relieve pain and restore movement; however, without addressing the surrounding muscle hypertonicity/spasm or addressing the initial cause of the problem, these adjustments will not provide lasting relief.
We’re also on Twitch! Give us a follow and catch up with our live streams discussing all topics in health & wellness both in and out of gaming.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Esports Healthcare disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
The information contained on this website does not establish, nor does it imply, doctor-patient relationship. Esports Healthcare does not offer this information for diagnostic purposes. A diagnosis must not be assumed based on the information provided.
© 2020 Esports Healthcare, LLC - All Rights Reserved
Esports Healthcare® is a registered trademark of Esports Healthcare, LLC