Understanding SI Joint Pain In Pregnancy and How To Get Relief

by Oct 30, 2019

The most common source of pain during pregnancy is the SI joint. Have a better understanding of SI joint pain in pregnancy and how to get relief by following these tips.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

 

Are you experiencing SI joint pain while pregnant? SI joint pain during pregnancy is extremely common and is a huge burden to women who are pregnant. It can be absolutely debilitating and extremely painful, limiting your ability to do your normal daily routine or even your job. All you want is joint pain relief, but you’re not exactly sure if what you’re experiencing is really SI joint pain or some other back problem or pregnancy related condition. After reading this you’ll have a better understanding of SI joint pain in pregnancy and have all your questions answered related to this topic. Ultimately in the end, the goal is to get the proper treatment so you can have back pain relief.

SI Joint Pain During Pregnancy

 

SI joint pain during pregnancy is a common problem due to the hormonal changes that take place while being pregnant. 

“Most musculoskeletal pain in pregnancy is related to relaxin, a hormone that causes your muscles and ligaments to relax,” –Kara Manglani

Since our muscles and ligaments are relaxed, there tends to be a lot more movement occuring in the bones that make up each joint. The SI joint is composed of 2 bones: The sacrum=tailbone (sacro) and ilium = pelvic bones (iliac) thus makes the name sacro-iliac joint (SI joint).

With the changes in the growth of a pregnant woman’s belly, the tension and strain goes to the weakest link, which in most cases are the ligaments at the SI joint. 

What Does SI Joint Pain Feel Like? (SI joint pain symptoms during pregnancy)

So how do you know if your SI joint is out of place? What does true sacoiliac joint pain feel like? It’s a pain that is deep yet dull over one side of your lower back. It’s primarily located over the dimple area that can be found just at or below your belt line. Try to take a look at your back side in the mirror with no clothes on to find the dimple in your low back region. True SI joint pain is located there. Most often it’s one sided, but in severe cases it can be over both dimples. 

But SI joint pain can spread into other regions of your body. Often times people feel it in their hips and down into their one leg. This is often referred to as Sciatica. 

“Sciatica pain is typically felt like a constant burning sensation or a shooting pain starting in the lower back or buttock and radiating down the front or back of the thigh and leg and/or feet”. – Spine Health

Sciatica is typically one sided and can often be accompanied by numbness along the bath of the nerve down the entire leg or a portion of the leg. Also, your one leg may feel heavier.

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    Is Walking Good For SI Joint Pain

     

    Walking is good, running is not. So find a comfortable speed to walk where you are able to control your hip movements and maintain a stable core during each swing of your leg. Performing a common physical therapy core exercise called abdominal bracing while walking is highly recommended for physical therapy patients with SI joint dysfunction.

    Wear flat, comfortable walking shoes that allow for good shock absorption. I wouldn’t recommend heels or flats with a thin sole. There is no research that proves shoes are the culprit to SI joint dysfunction but many people wonder…can shoes cause SI joint pain?

    Can Shoes Cause SI Joint Pain?

    This is a common question asked among many when it comes to SI joint pain. Shoes wear down quickly and often need to be replaced. It’s important that our shoes maintain good shock absorption, so don’t allow the soles of your shoes to be worn down to practically nothing. Our body awareness tells us when it’s time to go shopping for another pair of kicks. But are shoes the reason for the pain you might be experiencing in your SI region?

    The answer is typically no. Most people show even wear and tear on the tread of the shoes. Our bodies are amazing and most are symmetrical. With this symmetry, there is little proof to justify our shoes being the culprit to our SI joint pain. If for some reason you were wearing high heels on the left and flats on the right, then maybe I would say, “Yes, the shoes are the cause of the problem,” but no one in their right mind would ever walk around like that. 

    Something that you may need to consider is whether or not you have a leg length discrepancy. This is a very common problem found among many people. See your physician or a physical therapist to check your leg length. If you have a leg length discrepancy, it can easily be fixed by inserting the proper size shoe lift within your shoe. 

    What To Do If You Can’t Walk Due To Severe SI Joint Pain During Pregnancy

    If you have severe SI joint pain during pregnancy and you can’t walk, I recommend you first rest in a comfortable position, use ice for pain relief and call a local physical therapist in your area for an evaluation. Most often you do not need a doctor’s script to see a physical therapist who has a Direct Access License. 

    The sooner your see a specialist, the better results you will have in your recovery, and the less time you have to spend suffering from the intense pain. You may even get instant relief after your physical therapy appointment from a muscle energy technique (MET) or other modalities. Call your physician to notify him of your pain, explain that you are pregnant and ask for a recommended over-the-counter pain medication that is safe to take while pregnant. 

    Treatment For Sacroiliac Joint Pain In Pregnancy

    Understanding exactly how to treat SI joint pain in pregnancy is rather complex. There are medical professionals who specialize and have been trained to treat SI joint dysfunctions in pregnant women. Be cautious when following a YouTube video or reading an article online because you may be performing the exercise incorrectly.

    Be sure to see a medical professional to evaluate your condition to properly diagnose whether you have SI joint dysfunction or another common back injury, such as a bulging disc.

    Three of the most common medical professionals you can go see to treat SI joint pain during pregnancy are Physical Therapist, Chiropractors and Massage Therapists. Next week I will have more information on how to decide on which medical professional is right for you and your treatment. 

    Does SI Joint Pain Go Away After Pregnancy

     

    There is no clear cut answer to this because everyone is different. For some, yes, the pain may go away instantly because the weight of the baby is no longer straining on the SI joint. For others, the SI joint pain during pregnancy was so severe that anatomical changes occurred that need extensive treatment to repair postpartum.

    For instance, if you stretched a rubber band for 7 days, do you think it would go back to its original shape once the tension was released? Yes, it would. But if you took rubber band and stretched it for 5 months, do you think it would begin to break down and lose its original shape? Most definitely. 

    The same goes for pregnancy. If you suffer from SI joint pain for 5 months long, it’s going to be harder to recover during postpartum, and the pain may continue to linger on. But if you only had SI joint pain the last week of your pregnancy, most likely you will feel better after going through childbirth.

    Always keep in mind that pain may occur solely from the act of childbirth. While you may experience a relief in the SI joint pain itself, you may experience a new pain in your back region from the act of going into labor.

    For further tips on SI joint pain relief during pregnancy continue reading about the top 5 exercises for SI joint pain in pregnancy. These physical therapy prescribed exercises for SI joint pain in pregnancy are easy to do at home and are completely safe during all 9 months of pregnancy. 

    Please comment below with questions or contact me on my contact page if you want to know more about SI joint pain.

    If you are looking for a physical therapist in your area to help treat your SI joint pain, visit the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) website.

     

    Keep Smiling,

    Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT

    This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

    **It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.

    About Dr. Jena Bradley

    About Dr. Jena Bradley

    Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey.  She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page. 

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