Why are Women More Susceptible to SI Joint Pain?
Sacroiliac or SI Joint Pain in Women
Nearly 80% of adults in the U.S. experience lower back pain at least once during their lives. This is found to be the major cause of missed workdays and job-related disability. About 15 to 30% of chronic lower back pain cases are due to the SI joint problems.
The SI joints or Sacroiliac joints are present at the far bottom of your back. These joints help make up the rear of your pelvic girdle and located between your sacrum bone and the hip bones (also known as ilia). The main function of the SI joints is that they support your body weight, spreading it across your pelvis. In addition, it will act as a shock absorber, thereby, decreasing the pressure on your spine.
In normal cases, the bones of our SI joints will be jagged and these jagged edges will help them stay in proper alignment. And, the spaces between the bones of our SI joints will be filled with fluid, providing lubrication. When these bones in your SI joint come out of its alignment, it will cause pain.
You may experience SI joint as a sharp, stabbing pain that will radiate from the hips and pelvis up to your lower back and even down to your thighs. Sometimes, you may feel numb or tingly at these spots, while at other times, you may feel as if your legs are buckling.
While both men and women can get SI joint pain, women are said to be more susceptible to it.
Is it true? If so, why are women more susceptible to SI joint pain?
Let’s try to find the answers to these questions here. Keep reading.
Women and SI Joint Pain
Firstly, answering the question, “Are women more susceptible to SI joint pain?”
Yes, according to research studies, women are found to be 8 to 10 times more susceptible to SI joint dysfunction than men. It’s mainly due to the differences in the anatomy, as well as the body chemistry between men and women.
Some of the risk factors in women include:
- Women contain one sacral segment less than that of men for locking into the pelvis and stabilizing it. This difference makes it possible for the women to give birth to a child.
- Women have broader hips, this increases the torque across the female’s SI joints while they walk and run. Again, this too is associated with the childbirth.
- Females’ SI joint surfaces are shallower than that of males’. This decreases the stability of the SI joints.
- Women’s ligaments can become flexible as a result of the hormonal changes that take place during menstruation, gestation, and lactation. This flexibility can make their SI joints too mobile, thereby, leading to pain and inflammation.
From all these, what we can understand is that simply being a woman with the ability to give birth to a child increases our risk of contracting an SI joint pain. Furthermore, these risks will be taken to a new high level during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Increases the Risk of SI Joint Pain
So, how does pregnancy in a woman increase the risk of contracting an SI joint pain?
Following are the pregnancy-specific changes that increase your risk of SI joint pain:
- Hormonal changes that go into overdrive during gestation will result in over-mobility of your SI joint, which will quite stable in normal conditions. This increased mobility will lead to inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
- A baby bump will also shift the center of gravity forward, thereby, increasing the force that is felt on your lower spine. Many women will compensate for this additional load by overarching their lower back. This will put stress on the region and compress your spine.
- The abdominal muscles that will normally support your torso and maintain good posture will stretch out when you are pregnant so as to make room for the growing fetus. Due to this, your lower back will pick up the slack.
While these are the pregnancy-specific risk factors, there are other risk factors for SI joint pain during gestation. They are:
- A higher pre-pregnancy BMI
- Pre-existing back pain
- Carrying multiple babies
- Young age
- Sedentary lifestyle
Take the SI Joint into Your Own Hands
Women’s bodies do some incredible things to give birth to a baby. However, some of these have side effects that are undesirable. An important and more common side effect is the SI joint pain. According to the statistics, 50 to 80% of women experience back pain during pregnancy, with the SI joint dysfunction being an important culprit.
But, it doesn’t mean that you need to take up the curse and suffer all the life. You can tackle some of the risk factors of sacroiliac joint pain on your own. For instance, BMI and activity levels are quite straightforward. But, you may be surprised to know that you can also tackle some of your anatomical and hormonal problems as well.
Aren’t you excited to know how?
Let’s learn here:
Use an SI Joint Belt
This is one of the simplest ways to treat your SI joint dysfunction. Use a high-quality SI joint belt to help stabilize your SI joint area and enable the painful inflammation to heal. Moreover, this added support of an SI joint belt can help decrease the pressure on your spine. Furthermore, these belts can help with improving your posture and anterior shift that most women have to deal with after childbirth.
Work Out Your Abs
When you are pregnant, you must spend some time working out your abs. Such exercises will help keep your abdomen involved in maintaining a good posture, which plays an important role in the treatment of SI joint pain.
Following are some of the recommended SI joint pain exercises to try out:
- Heel drops
- Standing crunches
- Opposite arm-leg extensions
- Pelvic tilt
- Side Plank
While these are recommended during pregnancy, prenatal yoga will help address a variety of aches and pains during pregnancy. It will also help make your body ready for childbirth.
The Bottom Line:
Undeniably, some causes of sacroiliac joint pain are not preventable. But, we can slow down its progression by using good quality SI joint belts and exercising.