What is the Ilium?

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  • Written By: A. Ribken
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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The ilium is the highest and largest of the three pelvic bones that make up the pelvic girdle. It is characterized by the ala, or wings, that flare out from the sides. It functions as part of the musculoskeletal system, helping to support the weight and posture of the body. The bone also serves as an anchor for muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the pelvic region and protects the internal organs.

The pelvic girdle is made up of three bones; the ilium, the ischium, and the pubis, which fuse together in a grown adult. The ilium, Latin for “groin” or “flank,” is the largest of these. The hipbones are part of the iliac crest. The bone supports the sacrum, which supports the spine.

The space between the outer edges of the upper iliac bones is called the biiliac width and is used by anthropologists and forensic specialists to estimate body mass. The measurement is also useful in obstetrics to make sure the baby has a big enough passage during delivery. The typical female biiliac measurement is 11 inches (28 cm).

Disorders of the illium are rare and typically caused by sports injuries or trauma. Iliolumbar Syndrome is an inflammation of the iliolumbar ligament that attaches to the ilium. This is usually a result of repeated bending or twisting, such as the kind seen in volleyball or golf. The syndrome affects the vertebrae attached to the pelvis and the surrounding area.


Symptoms can include pain in the lower back or groin area that can radiate down the buttock or leg, stiffness, and difficulty in movement. Treatment often utilizes alternating applications of heat and cold, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. In serious cases, a back brace may also be used.

Other disorders involving the bone include arthritis, low back pain, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction. More women than men suffer from these problems, and it is theorized that the cause is hormonal, because during pregnancy, a female’s body produces hormones to relax the ligaments to allow the pelvis to stretch. At this time, no studies have been done to verify this theory.

The ilium is a vital part of the body’s musculoskeletal support system, and its health is important to gait and posture. Recommendations for iliac health include stretching exercises to maintain the flexibility of the ligaments and strengthen the muscles supporting the ilium and surrounding vertebrae. Yoga and Pilates are just two types of exercises shown to be beneficial in preventing and managing injury to this area of the body.


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Post 3

I have a lot of low back pain due to arthritis so this affects my ilium. They say that one of the best things to do when you have arthritis is to stay active and moving.

This can be hard to do when your joints are stiff and your back hurts. I wanted to stay active, but didn't want to do exercises that would aggravate my condition and make it worse.

I have found the best way to stay active and not cause further problems with my ilium is by swimming. I am able to strengthen my muscles without putting extra strain on them.

Post 2

I have always had poor posture and once had a trainer tell me I needed to strengthen my ilium. I had never heard of this term before and had no idea what she was talking about.

She explained how important this pelvic area is to good posture and that by doing certain exercises to strengthen it my posture should improve.

These are not hard exercises to do, but it is important that I do them on a consistent basis. I have noticed a difference in my flexibility and it is easier for me to stand up straighter since I started doing these.

I had never given a thought to how keeping my pelvic area strong would help improve my posture. I thought it was just a matter of being more aware of not slouching and standing up straight.

Post 1

Once when my husband was training a horse, he injured his ilium. This happened while he was on the horse, and even though he was able to stay on, he was in severe pain.

This pain was in his back, his groin and down his leg. He was in enough pain I didn't know if he was going to be able to get in the car to go to the emergency room.

After running several tests, they concluded he had caused injury to his ilium. He was given some muscle relaxers which helped with the pain, and really had to take it easy for a few days.

This hasn't stopped him from getting on horses, but he is a lot more cautious than he used to be. Whenever he remembers that intense pain, he doesn't take as many chances.

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