4 Ways To Manage Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Pain and inflammation in your sacroiliac (SI) joint can easily be mistaken for other conditions, since the SI joint typically provides little movement and you may not know it exists. A combination of at-home care and medical treatments can help you sit and walk more comfortably. In severe cases, surgical options may be necessary.

Keep Your SI Joints Warm

It is difficult to keep your SI joints warm, because most heating pads are not designed to be sat on. You will need to invest in a heated seat cushion, which is designed to endure the weight of your body. You can use a traditional heating pad on the area between your lower back and buttocks. If you find regular heat therapy is helpful, invest in heat therapy patches for continuous use of heat while you are away from home.

Many heat patches contain capsaicin, which may cause skin irritation if you use them often. Try attaching the heat patches to your underwear so you can feel the heat while minimizing constant direct contact between your skin and the patch. At home, you can easily use a cloth or towel soaked in hot tap water for moist-heat therapy. Since moist heat is better at penetrating the skin, you may find it is more effective for temporary relief of pain.

Use Cushions

Keeping the area cushioned will help reduce pressure on your SI joints. Extra pillows or a seat cushion can make sitting more comfortable. Try a massaging seat cushion to determine if massage offers any relief. Although SI joint dysfunction is a joint problem, tension in the surrounding muscles can exacerbate your pain. A massaging seat cushion may help alleviate tension and prevent pain from becoming worse. If you experience pain and discomfort when lying down, you may want to invest in a memory foam mattress topper.

Memory foam will offer more support than using a pillow when you are resting and will stay in place if you sleep in different positions. Furthermore, memory foam reduces pressure points that can occur from a traditional innerspring mattress. If you cannot invest in a comfortable mattress topper, you may want to consider sleeping or resting with your pelvis slightly elevated on pillows to take more pressure off your SI joints. If you are going to elevate your pelvis, make sure you have other pillows or cushions to provide lower back support and prevent added strain to your lower back.

Consider Medication Injections

SI joint dysfunction can go from discomfort to continuous pain quickly, because they are weight-bearing joints. Steroid injections can give you longer relief, faster than over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Since your SI joints are not easily palpated externally, the procedure is slightly more complex than steroid injections in other joints. Your orthopedic surgeon will use an imaging device to help guide the needle into the appropriate location. Another form of analgesic injections is the use of lidocaine to alleviate pain. These injections typically last for a few days and can often be performed without the help of imaging devices.

Weigh Surgical Options

In severe cases of SI joint dysfunction in which you cannot achieve long-term relief with non-invasive options, surgery can be the best option. SI joint fusion stops the underlying cause of pain, which is typically hypermobility of the joint. The bones on either side of the joint, the pelvis and sacrum, are fused together with screws.

Many orthopedic surgeons are using a minimally invasive approach to SI joint fusion. This makes the surgery less risky and leads to a decreased recovery time. A minimally invasive approach only requires a few small incisions to reach the SI joint instead of the large incision associated with a traditional "open" surgery. You can find more information about sacroiliac surguries through sites like http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com.

SI joint dysfunction can cause significant pain with simple activities, such as walking, standing or lying down. Utilizing several techniques to ease your pain can help you return to normal and minimize flare-ups of pain.