It’s been a week since I started self-treatment for SI joint pain. I’ve made some changes after talking with my teacher that I want to share, in case you’re doing this at home. (If you’re just tuning in, you may want to read my first post on this topic.)
First, I am wearing the sacroiliac belt at night while I sleep.
Since we spend about one-third of our life sleeping, and we’re unconscious while we sleep, sleep posture is extremely important when working on alignment issues like an SI joint that has been out of alignment for years.
I decided to sleep with the sacroiliac belt on 24/7 to prevent the alignment occurring during the daytime hours from being undone while I sleep. Of course I take it off to shower and swim.
Second, since I change the side I sleep on several times each night, I am using two body pillows, one for each side, to rest my upper arm and leg on. It’s important not to stretch or strain the SI joint while sleeping, and keeping the upper leg level eases tension on the joint.
I was already using a Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow, which nicely accommodates sleeping on either side as well as on the back. (If you decide to order one, please note that you need to measure your shoulder width to get the right size for your body.)
If I roll onto my back, I wedge the bottom corners of the body pillows under my knees for support to lessen strain on the SI, hip, and knee joints. If you’re mainly a back sleeper, consider putting a bolster or pillow under your knees.
I have no excuses now for not sleeping in an aligned position. Already I notice that I change positions less often during my sleep, which indicates my sleep has become more restful. (Yes, you can be stressing your body even in your sleep!)
Third, since the sacroiliac belt is adjustable, I make sure it is stretched really taut when I am doing anything strenuous — doing massage and bodywork, going for a hike, standing for long time, and working out. If I’m lying on the sofa watching a movie or sitting to eat, I may loosen it a bit.
In fact, part of my rehab program may include taking long walks with the belt on. That’s been an issue for me. Walking about 3 miles without a rest is my limit because by then, my hips are hurting. I would so love to be able to take longer walks and hikes without hip pain.
My functional movement workouts include lots of exercises that strengthen the joints: leg lowering, pushups, squats, bridge, etc. I’ve been researching and practicing other exercises to strengthen and align the pelvis.
A couple of other things: The habit-changing is going okay. When I habitually cross my legs or stand with more weight on one leg, more and more I catch myself doing it, stop doing it, and focus on being evenly aligned.
It feels good to be aligned, and I notice that I’m not doing those things as often as I used to.
I’ve also begun to pay more attention to what I do with my feet when standing. Not collapsing in the arches is my goal. I make a kidney-bean shape to my foot, keeping the arch raised.
All these changes are making a difference after just one week. At various times, I’ve felt my soft tissues shifting: on my inner left heel, my left tibialis anterior, the inside of my left knee, in the left groin, and at a couple of places on the left SI joint. This is a good thing!
Have I mentioned that I’ve been unable to hold tree pose standing on my left leg? It’s too wobbly.
The SI belt is changing my body for the better.
Here’s some info about why the SI joint takes so long to heal: The joint has to be strong, because it’s where the downward pressure from the head, spine, ribs, and sacrum meets the upward pressure from the legs, which are like columns supporting the rest of the body.
The sacroiliac joints are where these pressures meet. These are the longest joints in the body and are deep and inaccessible to touch because of all the ligaments connecting the sacrum and the ilium.
Ligaments are cable-like connective tissues holding bones together. Ligaments have a tiny bit of flexibility (elastin), but their main role is to be strong and provide stability (collagen).
When ligaments get too stretched out, pain and misalignment result from the joint being too loose.
Wearing the sacroiliac belt holds the bones in place (like an iron hoop around a wooden barrel holds the staves together tightly enough to hold liquid). Over time, the ligaments adjust, regaining appropriate length to keep the bones aligned properly. The alignment of the body reflects what we do: how we stand, sit, walk, move, sleep.
When that happens (and I don’t know how long that will take), I can stop wearing the belt all the time, perhaps only wearing it when or if I feel pain and taking it with me on long walks, just in case. I’m prepared for it to take a while.
To see an update on this process after 18 months, read Sacroiliac joint healed!
Hi, I am having a tremendous amount of SI joint pain from a car accident a year ago. I had back surgery 6 years ago but had healed to be able to run a 1/2 marathon 1 year prior to the accident. It sound that you are very knowledgeable on this subject and I would be interested in contacting you for wisdom on this. I am currently wearing the SI belt and it helps tremendously, but it seems that I am constantly fighting getting out of alignment and the pain come right back.
Would you be willing to visit about your experience over private email?
I will email you privately.
I have a herniated disc, which was being treated monthly by an ART chiropractor for approx one year. Then six months ago I slipped and fell onto my posterior.
A month later, I started having severe SI joint pain. My chiro told me that it was the disc problem and discounted the fact that my pain was in my pelvis/ Rt SI joint area.
So I’ve dismissed him and I’ve been seeing a PT for almost four months.
PT has helped and my home exercises help also. But my SI joint keeps coming out and I can’t quite self correct with my PT exercises.
Could you shed some light as to how to more effectively self correct my alignment and stay aligned ?
I wear an SI belt and a lower back support while working. My pain can get pretty intense and at 47 years old I have had to limit all activities besides working, cooking low carb and doing my PT and yoga. Sitting for more than 45 minutes causes bad sciatic pain. I stay home a lot due to my pain.
I’d greatly appreciate your experience and expertise in dealing with an unstable SI Joint.
Colleen, I will email you privately.
Hi MaryAnn, Im 36 (female) and have not had any trauma or accident. I’ve been suffering from SI joint pain for like a year now. And have been given quite different diagnosis, including body alignment, si joint dysfunction, lower back disk issue, tilted pelvis, … . None of the diagnosis and treatments have been helpful so far, and I have pain sitting, standing, driving, sleeping, … . I got an SI belt but when I wear it, I feel more pain in my SI joint. I’d deeply appreciate your advise.
Does your pelvis feel more stable with the belt? If you loosen it a bit, is it less painful? I’m definitely not an expert, just someone who shared what she did for herself, and your issues may be different than mine.
Second (or third) opinions are good if the first one isn’t helping. Be sure to get their instructions in writing, and ask what to expect. If you haven’t yet seen a physical therapist, find the most experienced one available.
Take the belt with you. They may have you do an exercise to get the joint aligned before putting the belt on to hold the alignment in place. They may also advise on sleep positioning.
It takes time for ligaments to heal and shorten if too loose. Wishing you the best.
Hi MaryAnn, appreciate your fast response and thanks for sharing your experience. Honestly I can not tell if the belt is helping and if I feel more stable with the belt. I avoided wearing it the past few weeks. I’ve had 4 different opinions and got different treatment and exercises per each (left SI joint dysfunction, pelvis tilt, disk bulge and right SI dysfunction) (my left hip/leg bothers me). Regardless, the pain is still there and sitting puts me in a lot of pain. The issue is that finding a specialist/doctor with enough experience who sees the entire body as a whole and comes up with a solution (or combination of solutions) that works, is not really easy, and I have seen a dozen of them so far. I wanna try standing to work but for some reasons my right feet gets into a lot of pain, then I end up in a sick loop of switching between sitting and standing and laying down to work. I have been advised to do nerve block injection, but Im not sure how effective and permanent is this solution. I am sharing my story here hoping that you or other folks here could give a piece of advise that saves me from the pain I am taking.
Having pelvis issues
I’m sorry. Is wearing a sacroiliac belt something you’re thinking of trying? Let us know if it helps.
HI there I need some advice to help with my SI joint dysfunction.
I am not an expert by any means, except for what’s happening in my own body. I encourage you to see a physical therapist with a good reputation for diagnostics. He/she can recommend exercises that may help to relieve the issue and maybe also do some manual therapy. Learn as much about it as you can and try different things to find what works for you.
Totally agree with all you said! Using a Serola SI/trochanter belt. So the ligaments moving with it on is OK? Near the groins and on the trochanter exterior and interior? I have that pain with it on…but I’m walking better and my chiropractor sees the difference. Tighter is better but have pain on the SI joint when it’s too tight. Usually when sitting. Chiropractor said tighten it as much as you can handle…your skin will tell you if its too rough.
Nice to hear your story and see I’m not alone!
I haven’t been able to work, surf…or anything. I see the difference slowly…been using it 24/7 for one month. I did wear it swimming…the only exercise but walking I can do now. I was overmobilized by a horrible chiropractor before! Never go to one that wants you to sign a year-long contract! And never go 3 times week for three months and twice a week for 3 months! I unravelled and have been going through hell. Long story short: I got a refund from that chiropractor and I should have sued him. They were harsh and overworked me…breaking both ilia blades next to the SI joint. Chiropractic and this belt and cortisol shots and walking and swimming are all that keep me going. 45 and too young for this.
Nice to see that there is an answer because regular doctors are so lost when it come to this with men! Women yes. Men no. Uncommon. And that’s why chiropractic works hand in hand with this belt. Glad I read your story…I see you did your research like I’ve been doing.
Hey, Christian, hang in there! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree there are chiropractors with questionable skills and questionable business practices. So sorry for your suffering. I hope that former chiropractor doesn’t do that to anyone else! Glad you found one that is helping you now.
I wore my SI belt as tight as I could. I didn’t have pain but occasionally had redness on my skin. It felt great for my pelvis to finally be more stable. No issues with trochanter or groins. I worked throughout but modified my yoga practice and movements to avoid any twisting to the low spine/SI joints and any kind of lifting and turning.
Everyone is too young for this! Yes, doctors know a lot more about women’s pelvises because we often have issues there related to pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Hang in there with the belt. It can take a while for those ligaments to stop being all stretched out. Good luck! Keep me posted, please!
May I ask what SI Joint Belt do you wear? I need one and do not want to waste money on one that will not work.
Kristy, the item I had the most success with was a 48″ x 4″ core wrap, meant to hold a hot or cold pack against the torso. They close with velcro and are about 1/8th of an inch thick, so they’re sturdy. I cut mine shorter to fit, and I bought two so would have one to wear while washing the other. (I wore them 24/7 except when showering or swimming.) You can find them on Amazon.com.
Hi, You said you had the most success with a core wrap. Does it stay in place then while you sleep? I have a normal sacroiliac belt and it rides up during sleep. Does the core wrap do that too? Thanks.
Yes, it stayed in place while I slept most of the time.
Hey Mary Ann Thank you for your article. This is indeed a complex and painful area! Have you ever heard of anyone saying their back pain got slightly worse from a trochanter support? I know I have a problem with SI and L5 dysfunction which as hard as I try, I cannot self manage and over time symptoms get worse and worse. If I use my hands to hold my hips whilst I walk or wear the support, its like I am a whole new person from a structural support way but can intensify the nerve pain in ower back and running down legs. Do you think that’s possibly becuase I’m out of alignment to start with? I want to use it but I’m scared to use it…if that makes sense. Thanks for any feedback.
Edwina, I haven’t heard anyone saying their back pain got worse from trochanter support. It does sound like you’re out of alignment, but why? Were you in an accident? Could this be from birth? If I were you, I would want that SI-L5 dysfunction evaluated by a professional. That’s a complication I’m not familiar with, and it could be something serious like spondylolisthesis. Ask around where you live to find the most experienced and helpful doctor, physical therapist, osteopath, or chiropractor. You really need X-rays or some type of imaging to find out more about what’s going on there. Good luck, dear. I’m rooting for your healing.
Thanks MaryAnn. Over the years I have seen so many oesteos, PTs and chiros I cant count. I have found many who can correct the dysfunction and get me out of pain but it only lasts a few days and then starts slide back downhill. This would continue (because pain relief is a great motivator) except we then move country and I have to start again. Our latest move has left me without someone who can at least see the problem and get me out of alignment pain which has really forced me to search for the root cause. I am now convinced it is a biomechanical fault as they cant find anything else. I have flat feet/pronation and have always had a problem since I was growing up, its just steadily got worse. This is affecting my whole nervous system. I have recently been trying the support again and it feels so good to have the area held together but its like it pushes the dysfucntion higher up the spine so then i get a locking up higher up. I think you are right though, I havent been put into alignment and then put it on. I see my oesteo tomorrow in France (only 4.5 hours drive!) and then I’ll pop it on and maybe keep it on! That sounds like a better plan doesn’t it? Thanks so much though for your time. It’s good to talk to someone who has some experience in this area!
Edwina, that’s difficult, moving a lot and not being near a specialist. You mentioned you have flat feet and pronation. The feet truly ARE the root cause of a lot of structural issues. Have you seen a podiatrist/foot specialist? My left foot was flatter than the right after my car accident. I was right-leg dominant before, and the accident just made my left-right imbalance worse. Now my arches are nearly the same, so you CAN build an arch in a flat foot.
Esther Gokhale has a video that shows you how to do the inchworm exercise to strengthen your foot muscles: https://gokhalemethod.com/video/gokhale_moment_inchworm. (Read the comment below the video.)
By all means, put the SI belt on after you get aligned and see if it helps. Good luck, dear!
Awesome MaryAnn Thank you. I truly believe that the feet are integral and i am happy to hear that you have restablished your arches! Very good news esp when so many say its not possible. I know this can be done and I did start work on it but then locked up my SI and then freaked out that I was causing it by trying reestablish my arches even though it is the very thing I need!…I think I need to be hand held through the process… Thanks so much for the link. I will get on it. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. We all have to share if we are to ease the suffering we are now seeing in the world. Big hugs