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How to Cope with Sacroiliac Joint Pain

By Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017

Roughly speaking, the sacroiliac joint is the connection between your spine and hip. The sacroiliac joint (also called SI joint) acts as a shock absorber and has little movement. An injury to the joint, which could be caused by a fall, can result in long lasting lower back pain. These tips can help you cope with the back pain. Always follow your doctor's recommendations.

Sleeping. Lying in bed can be the most difficult time for someone suffering for sacroiliac joint pain. They can not lie on the sore side and in most cases, can not lie on their back or stomach because rising from a back or stomach position can send sharp pain to the sore hip. To make sleeping a little more comfortable, add a couple inches of foam to the bed. Sleeping on the uninjured side is a given. If remaining on your uninjured side is difficult, try sleeping on a couch where you can press your back against the back of the couch. You can also try placing a thin pillow or folded towels between your knees and down to your ankles to lift the injured side slightly, keeping it more aligned with your spine, to help reduce pain.

Medication. The use of over-the-counter NSAIDs, like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) can be extremely helpful. Read the labels; there are risks with taking NSAIDS, particularly over a long time. However, the benefits of using an NSAID to reduce pain and inflammation to give you more mobility is a very important consideration. For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe pain killers and muscle relaxants, or a stronger NSAID.

According to Dr. Ranit Mishori, a Washington, D.C. based doctor and writer for Parade Magazine, it's usually more effective to take medications "around the clock" (every few hours) than to wait for an episode of pain before the next dose.

Heat and cold therapy. Take advantage of heat and cold therapy. The type of pad that is filled with gel and can be kept in the freezer will be easier to use and is worth the investment. Buy two, one to keep in the freezer and one to be able to heat in the microwave. The gel pack also takes away concern of falling asleep with an electric heating pad since the gel pack will slowly return to room temperature. When the pain is at its worst, apply an ice pack to help reduce inflammation. Heat can be used to help relax muscles, and is a good thing to use at bedtime. Lie down on your side and lay the pack across the painful hip, leaving it on for up to 30 minutes. If possible, try to establish a routine of a mid-day lie-down break of at least 30 minutes, applying either heat or cold. If you have a small heat/cold pack, you can tuck it inside clothing whether or not you are lying down.

Physical Therapy. Learning what exercises are best for you to help tone back and abdominal muscles is quite beneficial. If you are unable to see a physical therapist, check out websites for back exercises directed toward low back pain. Just keep in mind that if the exercise hurts, do NOT continue doing it.

Joint restraint. Using a sacroiliac belt when performing household chores may help to reduce over-extending the joint. The belt can be worn under or over clothes.

Riding in the car. The jiggling of the car, and especially a sudden turn or hitting bumps can be excruciating. Use seat padding and if a passenger, use pillows on both sides of your body to help reduce and cushion movement. In addition, take along a heat or cold pack and don't forget pain medication.

Joint injection. A pain management specialist can inject a numbing solution and anti-inflammatory into the joint. Sounds painful, but it's actually a less painful experience than getting a shot in your arm. The results can be dramatic, leaving you completely or almost pain free. However, this is not a cure, nor will the affects last indefinitely.

Tips

A pain management specialist can provide you medications to help you through your pain. It's critical that you also take care of yourself by not doing things that cause you pain. With time, your discomfort will ease. An alternative to, or in addition to pain management, you might want to try a chiropractor or acupuncturist. Consider adding supplements like Fish Oil that have been shown to help reduce inflammation. Though some days you may be on the verge of tears from the pain, if you can practice restraint to allow the joint to heal, you will see an improvement in time.

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