The Sacroiliac joint which is simply called the SI joint is the joint that connects between the spine and the pelvis. Unlike other joints like the knee or elbow, SI joint moves very little. Unexpected injuries or repetitive strain can cause the SI joint to become inflamed and painful. One may feel this pain in the lower back. The surface of the joints has irregular elevations and depressions that cause interlocking of the joint surfaces. There are strong inflexible connective fibers called ligaments that stabilize the front and back of the joint. Additionally, there are multiple strong muscle groups that cross over the joint providing additional support. Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to pain in the SI joint or aggravate the existing pain. However, certain positions are unlikely to cause pain than others. In this article, Dr. Ravichandra Kelkar, Consultant – Orthopedic Surgeon, Manipal Hospital Hebbal, Bengaluru explains how sleep positions can trigger as well as relieve Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain).
What Causes SI Joint Pain?
Causes of SI joint pain can be arthritis, Spondylitis, Pregnancy, Trauma and abnormal posture while sitting for long hours.
Several studies say that insomnia can lead to more joint pain because poor sleep may trigger inflammatory pathways that worsen the pain. Making matters worse, poor sleep the previous night can exaggerate pain the next day.
A word of caution here: Making sure the night light is bright enough for the person to move safely through the home. If one cannot see around, the risk of falling and exacerbating the back or neck pain can be even worse for someone suffering from SI joint.
How To Relieve SI Joint Pain?
If you are suffering from SI joint pain, you must exercise these sleeping tips to relieve pain and prevent triggers:
- Using pillows to support the hips and pelvis in a better alignment can reduce SI joint pain when lying down.
- For all stomach sleepers, placing a pillow underneath the lower abdomen can be beneficial.
- For side sleepers, having a pillow lengthwise between their knees and ankles will be great.
- SI pain can also be assigned to pregnancy, infection, and conditions like arthritis and enclosing spondylitis which is a form of arthritis that affects the spine.
- Also, to improve the problem maintaining a proper ergonomic posture while sitting is important
- While sleeping on the back, one could place a pillow or two under their knees which causes the lower back region to flatten against the mattress for better support.
- Alternatively, placing a rolled up towel under the lower back region or a lumbar sleep roll to provide protection for the lower back and SI joint area can work wonders
- A firm mattress may help. A firm mattress will support the body, and help ease pain gradually.
- Pillows are also important to acquiring good sleep, lumbar and cervical pillows can help cushion tender joint pain points as well.
Additional tips to prevent SI Joint Pain
In the mornings, one can do some gentle stretching to start the day. Even with a good night’s sleep the night before, doing stretching exercises before sleeping and even getting out of bed will help minimize pain and allow the person to gradually prepare their body for slow movements. Post the stretching session one can follow up with a hot shower to soothe stiff joints, and that can give you energy to walk around for the entire day.
How to diagnose Sacrolilits?
There is a dire need of diagnosis in terms of joint pain. A lot of people ignore these to be general pain and so, severe conditions are ignored. Diagnosis of Sacrolilits or SI joint pain can be done by physical examination. Imaging Modalities like X-ray, CT or MRI and blood tests.
Lastly, treatment for Sacroilitis can typically vary from pain medication, to Sacroiliac joint injections; to over-the-counter pain relievers (such as acetaminophen) and anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen) may be suggested for mild to moderate pain relief. Physiotherapy with modalities such as IFT, SWD and back Exercises should be a part of the routine. As a last resort even surgeries like fusion can be very beneficial for many.
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