mature man stationary bike
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Get Going Gently

When pain in your SI joint flares up, your doctor can bring you relief, but a few moves at home can help, too. It helps to be active, but start slowly, like with a few minutes of daily walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bike. If your pain level doesn’t go up, work up to 20 or 30 minutes of exercise at a time. Iyengar yoga, a gentle practice that focuses on better posture, can also stretch out the tight muscles and joints that could be adding to your back pain.

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hanging ice skates
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Know All the Wrong Moves

Some movements can make SI joint pain worse and keep you from healing. Try not to bring your knees to your chest, do sit-ups, twist, or bend from the waist with your knees straight. Running should be off-limits until you’re on the mend. You’ll also want to stay away from activities where you shift your weight from one leg to the other, like golfing, step aerobics, or ice skating. They’ll put more stress on your SI joint.

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woman in hot bath
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Cool Off (and Warm Up)

An ice pack can bring down swelling around your SI joint and numb the pain you feel. Apply one for 20 minutes at a time, then wait at least 30 minutes before you ice it again. That way, you’ll prevent frostbite and let the blood vessels in the area get back to normal. Heat can also be a good choice for tight and painful muscles. Try a heating pad or hot water bottle on your back.

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getting out of bed
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Limit Bed Rest

You need to keep from overdoing it, but bed rest isn’t usually the way to go. How active you should be early on depends on the cause of your SI pain. Light walking can often help ease your aches and speed healing. Rest in bed for a few hours on the first day or two that you’re in pain. Keep your body in a neutral position. If you sleep on your back, please a pillow under your knees. If you're a side sleeper, place a pillow between your knees (women may also need a pillow in the small of their waist to prevent bending sideways). Then get moving again as soon as you can.

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wallet and cell phone
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Stay Aligned

Good posture can help keep extra stress off your lower back. If you have SI joint dysfunction, limit how often you shift your weight to one side of your body. When you sit, uncross your legs and try not to lean into one hip. Avoid sitting on your wallet or cell phone. When you stand, balance your weight between both legs and feet. And try not to bend at the waist when you pick things up off the floor.  

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si back brace
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Brace Yourself

Some people get relief from wearing a special lightweight brace called a sacroiliac belt. Your doctor might ask you to wear one to keep your SI joint from moving too much so it can heal. You’ll need to wear it all day. Wearing it only sometimes probably won’t help.

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ibuprofen pills and bottle
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Use Over-the-Counter Relief

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can ease SI pain. These meds reduce swelling, too, so your doctor may ask you to keep taking them even after you start to feel better to make sure you heal completely. They can cause problems if you take them for a long time, though, like an upset stomach, ulcers, rashes, or high blood pressure. If you need to take them for more than 30 days, ask your doctor how to avoid side effects.

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lower back massage
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Hands-On Help

If nothing seems to tame your SI joint pain, see your doctor for medical treatment. They can prescribe medications, injections, or recommend an appointment with a physical therapist or a chiropractor. Also, you can ask them about alternative treatments that might help. Massage therapy may help relax the tissue around the joint. Some people get relief from acupuncture, in which thin needles are gently placed into the skin at certain points of your body. When needed, surgery can also help ease the pain.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/06/2017 Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on November 06, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1)Getty Images

2)Getty Images

3)Getty Images

4)Thinkstock Photos

5)Thinkstock Photos

6)Photo Courtesy of Serola Sacroiliac Belts

7)Getty Images

8)Getty Images

 

 

SOURCES:

Focused Ultrasound Foundation: “Sacroilitis.”

Scott Michael Schreiber, DC, DACRB, DCBCN, MS, LDN, Cert. MDT, CKTP, CNS, Delaware Back Pain & Sports Rehabilitation Centers, Newark, DE.

Arthritis Foundation: “Low Back Pain Relief.”

Williams, K. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, No. 13, 2003.

American Chiropractic Association Rehab Council: “Rehab and the Sacroiliac Joint.”

Greis, A. OA Musculoskeletal Medicine, May 2013.

Zelle, B. The Clinical Journal of Pain, September/October 2005.

American Chiropractic Association Rehab Council: “Rehab and the Sacroiliac Joint.”

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.”

Harvard Medical School: “Bed rest for back pain? A little bit will do you.”

The Ohio State University Medical Center Department of Rehabilitation Services: “Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Exercises.”

UCLA Spine Center: “Sacroiliac Joint Disease.”

Roelofs, P. Spine, July 2008.

Griffin, G. American Family Physician, April 2002.

Cohen, S. BMJ, January 2009.

Greis, A. OA Musculoskeletal Medicine, May 2013.

Kumar, S. International Journal of General Medicine, published online Sept. 4, 2013.

American College of Rheumatology: “NSAIDs.”

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on November 06, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.