Conditions > SI Joint Pain

Natural SI Joint Pain Relief

Quick Summary

  • A telltale sign of SI joint pain is that it gets worse when you move, such as when you change from sitting to standing, or laying to sitting.

  • Common symptoms of SI joint pain include low back pain, pain in the buttocks, problems sleeping, and pain in groin area.

  • Natural relief from SI joint pain comes from gentle stretching, manual manipulation, acupuncture, and regenerative injections.


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SI joint pain symptoms

The sacroiliac joint, commonly referred to as the SI joint, connects your spine to your hipbones. When your SI joint becomes restricted and inflamed, you experience pain and discomfort. Pain from a restricted SI joint can include:

  • Low back pain

  • Pain in the buttocks

  • Problems sleeping

  • Pain in groin area

 

SI joint pain often gets worse when you move the joint, such as when you change positions from sitting to standing, or laying to sitting. The good news is there are natural ways to treat SI joint pain and find relief.

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SI joint pain causes

There are many possible causes of your SI joint pain. The safest way to diagnose your exact condition is to see your physician. In most cases, your condition will be a combination of the following common causes of SI joint pain:

 

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Restricted SI joint

The SI joint is designed to move. This movement allows it to absorb the normal impacts of walking, lifting, jumping.

When your SI joint becomes restricted, the way your bones move and wear against each other causes irritation to the bone, cartilage, and surrounding tissue. As a result, the nerves surrounding the joint become continually irritated. The result is pain and discomfort.

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Loose SI joint

On the other hand, ligaments surrounding the SI joint can become damaged. Remember that ligaments connect muscles to bone, allowing muscles to hold your bones in place.

 

When these ligaments surrounding the SI joint become damaged, they lose their ability to hold the joint as tightly as may be needed. The result is too much motion in the SI joint.

Just as a restricted joint causes problems, so too does a loose joint. In this case, the result is pain that comes from muscles, which overstrain to support the loose joint in place. This overstraining for extended periods of time results in pain and discomfort.

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Arthritis of SI joint

The SI joint constantly bears all of your weight. As a result, it's prone to developing arthritis. More specifically, your SI joint is prone to developing osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can develop as a result of an injury sustained during a fall or a sporting activity, excess weight, and even your genetics.

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Injury of SI joint

A previous injury, even one that occurred years ago, can result in SI joint pain. If you dealt with an injury that damaged your tendons surrounding the SI joint, that joint may now be experiencing too much motion.

 

To compensate for the extra motion in the joint, the muscles surrounding the SI joint may be straining to maintain the joint in place. If a past injury is causing your SI joint pain, the muscle or the damaged tendon is a likely source of your pain.

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SI joint pain and pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin. Relaxin softens the ligaments of the body and allows the pelvis to shift ever so slightly to allow the baby to exit the birthing canal.

 

Relaxin also allows for extra motion in the SI joint. This extra motion in the SI joint, which is a normal part of pregnancy, can contribute to low back pain that many pregnant women experience.

 

If you have an existing dysfunction in the ligaments or muscles surrounding the SI joint, it will be especially difficult to have sufficient stability when the relaxin hormone is present. The result is a loose SI joint, which can create lots of problems.

 

Once stability of the hip joint is restored, your muscles can relax and soften, and you can regain pain-free range of motion in the hip.

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SI joint pain relief

If you’re experiencing SI joint pain, realize it can be very difficult to treat at home. For natural relief from SI joint pain, you will most likely use a combination of the following treatments:

 

  • Gentle stretching

  • Manual manipulation

  • Acupuncture

  • Regenerative injections

  • Ice & anti-inflammatories


 

Gentle stretching

Gentle stretching of the iliopsoas, the piriformis, the rectus femoris, the erector spinae, and the glutes, can provide significant relief during an episode of acute SI joint pain. Gentle stretch exercises can increase mobility of the joint and help reduce inflammation by increasing blood flow to the area, which helps to drain any excess inflammatory materials.


Osteopathic Manipulation Treatments (OMT)

When we have a restricted SI joint, manual osteopathic manipulation treatments for hip pain can help naturally restore mobility to the joint, soften tight muscles, and for cases of arthritis, slow the advancement or progression of osteoarthritis.

 

This is because as soon as tissues surrounding the hip joint can move freely, your hip joint is able to function normally, giving your body a chance to heal that region.


Acupuncture for SI joint pain

Acupuncture can increase blood flow and the release of endorphins, which can naturally increase joint mobility and decrease pain. When acupuncture needles are introduced to different points along the SI joint, your body's endorphins can help with pain.


Regenerative injections for SI joint pain

In cases where you aren’t able to stabilize the SI joint using stretching exercises and osteopathic manipulation, regenerative medicine techniques can offer natural treatments. Regenerative treatments of SI joint pain typically include prolotherapy or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.

 

Prolotherapy and PRP therapy help damaged ligaments start or restart the healing process. Your physician will do this in hopes of re-growing healthy ligamentous tissue to strengthen and stabilize that joint.


Ice & NSAIDs

I’m typically not a proponent of ice and anti-inflammatory treatments. Inflammation is how your body begins the healing process. But if you are miserable and having an acute episode of severe SI joint pain, icing the area and taking an Advil or naproxen can reduce the inflammation and pain.


Going to see your doctor

A common question with SI joint pain is, when do I need to see a doctor?

 

In general, I find people wait far too long. If you're miserable and having a lot of pain in the hip, groin, low back area, I recommend seeing your family physician. Physical therapy is another excellent option to get some relief. Remember, the earlier SI joint dysfunctions are detected, the easier it will be to treat.


References

Understanding SI joint pain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470299/

Diagnosing SI joint pain? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2676310/

Can prolotherapy help SI joint pain? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29609940

Osteopathic manipulation for SI join pain relief? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2676310/

Written by: Dr. Dan Williams, DO
Last edited: November 26, 2018

 

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