Sacrum is a large-sized bone that supports the spine. It is triangular in shape and is located at the lowermost part of the spine. It consists of five vertebrae (S-1 to S-5) and are joined to the two hip bones at the sides. The two points where the sacrum joins the ilium or the hip bones are known as sacroiliac joints. The pain is triggered when there is a major problem in the sacroiliac joint. The pain is usually felt only on any one side of the back which tend to get extended to the knee, leg or even ankle after some time.
In the past decade or so, the number of sacrum cases is on the rise. This is mainly because of our wrong postural patterns while sitting in the workplace. The muscles undergo stretching and contraction during various movements which in turn improve their flexibility. When we sit in one place for long hours, the muscles in the lower back region including the pelvis muscles and hip flexor get contracted even when there is no need for contraction. As a result, they become extremely taut and put additional pressure on the sacrum. Similar problem arises in case the muscles are strained because of repeated bending, arching or twisting of the spine.
The cartilage present in the sacroiliac joint serves as the shock absorber. A damage to the cartilage after a bad fall or any other traumatic injury can lead to this kind of pain. Elderly people experience this pain when this cartilage wears out due to degenerative arthritis like osteoarthritis.
During the later part of pregnancy, the ligaments tend to become relaxed as certain hormones like relaxin are released. Moreover, the additional body weight and change in walking pattern puts the pelvic and hip muscles under a lot of stress.
Abnormal walking patterns due to difference in the length of the leg, underlying lower back problems like bulging herniated disk, sciatica can be also responsible for pain in the sacrum. Inflammation caused by gout, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis can also be held responsible for this painful condition.
A person suffering from sacrum pain should take an ample amount of rest. This will prevent any further injury to the affected sacroiliac joint. Application of ice within the first 48 hours of the start of the pain can bring about significant improvement in the condition of the patient. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines are often prescribed by doctors to relieve the pain. In case of a severe pain, corticosteroid injections are more effective. Massage by certified physical therapists is good as it helps to release the tension from the adjoining muscles. There are some exercises which can reduce the pain. These are basic stretching exercises and strength building exercises that improve blood flow and help the supporting muscles to grow stronger. A strong set of muscles ease off the strain and thus minimize the pain. There are a few serious cases where all these measures do not give any permanent solution to the problem and surgery is recommended to repair the damage in the sacroiliac joint.
Maintaining a healthy body weight by eating healthy foods and keeping the body flexible with regular exercises can reduce the chance of recurrence of pain to some extent. However, when the joint is degenerated by aging or abnormal physical structure, it cannot be prevented.