sacroiliac joint, the lower back and the S.I. belt
Causes, what to do about it, and how the S.I. belt can help
Pervasive problem with few answers in general medicine
Lower back pain is a pervasive problem that affects 8 out of every 10 people. In the U.S. alone, we spend over 1 million dollars annually on ways to treat and solve lower back issues, yet the problem persists.
Why it's a difficult area to understand
With the complications associated with this area, why doesn't everyone have difficulty with the lower back? The simple answer is that some people are able to adjust to even severe muscular and joint issues more easily and some people are affected severely by a small imbalance in the area. I remember dealing with my back pain, which I was being treated and taking medication for, along with wearing orthotics; and watching a woman walk into the store with flip flops, feet pointing outward, carrying a child on one hip, doing it all with about 75 extra pounds on her body, but doing it with gusto, not seeming to be in any pain, good range of motion, and I couldn't figure it out! The thing is, we are all different, built different, genetically predisposed joint , muscular and structural issues, past injuries, repetitive motion issues, postural and pregnancy induced problems can all affect our backs.
Problems contributing to lower back, sacrum and hip pain
I believe that one of the most overlooked areas of concern in regard to the sacroiliac joint is pregnancy. In pregnancy, the joints and ligaments become overly lax, facilitating delivery of a baby through the birth canal. Not only does the woman go through 9 months of extreme structural, postural, weight bearing and hormonal change, delivery, and after the baby arrives, stress due to lifestyle changes and lack of sleep; along with carrying a new baby, putting him/her down in the crib at odd angles, carrying the bulky and cumbersome car carrier, and getting the baby in and out of the car all affect the exact area we are talking about; the lumbar spine, the pelvic girdle, the hips and the sacroiliac joints. Yet I know very few women who receive any in depth knowledge of this from their doctor, or get preventative or helpful treatment for it.
Other issues that affect the sacroiliac joint are leg length difference, even minute differences, overuse injuries, postural problems, or old injuries that come back to haunt people in their 30's. Disieases, structural misalignment, dysfuntional movement patterns developed to compensate for different issues, all of these and more can affect one area, and in turn other areas of the pelvic, hip and lower back area.
Where to begin your healing process
The sacral area is easy to find if you feel down your lower back for the two bony areas on either side of your spine. They will generally be sore to the touch if you have joint pain, but can also cause dull aching . You may also have puffiness in that area of your back. You usually have trouble sitting for long periods of time without pain, sometimes wearing different shoes will aggravate it, and standing on hard surfaces. One of my symptoms was pain in the psoaz muscle, which runs down through your pelvic region connecting your spine, pelvis and hip. It was a deep pain that I could get to if I pushed in and under my front pelvic bone . I would also have intermittent deep "tail bone" and pelvic wall pain and very deep muscle pain in and under the big muscle that runs alongside the spine. Many times, because of the nerves associated with this area of the back and pelvic region, people will have digestive difficulties that accompany these issues as well.
The turning point for me was spinal decompression, finding my physical therapist, faithfully doing my exercises that she prescribed, and finally, wearing a si-loc belt for a full year. This is a belt that stabilizes your sacroiliac joint. Part of the complication of the si joint is that problems can occur as a result of overlax ligaments and joints, or overly tight ligaments and joints. Often, it is a combination of the two, as was mine, so my rehabilitation consists of stretching the si joint, but also stabilizing and strengthening it.
The Sacro-iliac , or S. I. belt for relief and rehabilitation
The S.I. belt is worn on the lower back/upper hip area. It is not uncomfortable, and generally provides relief immediately. As I said, I wore mine for a year, at first, even at night, because my sacrum and hips would get misaligned at night. Then I tapered off to just wearing it daily, and after a year, I wear it only when I am lifting, walking or standing on concrete for long periods, or wearing different shoes. I also needed a bit of extra lift in my left shoe( I just use a dr. scholls heel pad in one shoe. Your physical therapist can determine if this would be helpful for you.
Ask until you understand
Above all, ask questions, have your practitioner draw you pictures, explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. The more you know, the more you will be able to help yourself and be a partner in your rehabilitation. As difficult, confusing and vague lower back pain can be, there is a reason for it, but it takes time and understanding and work to get to the origin. Don't give up- you don't have to be in constant pain! Be your own advocate! You have more control over your back pain than you know.