Tag Archives: SI Joint Dysfunction

Pregnancy & SI Joint Dysfunction, Part 2: Chiropractic and Maternity Belts

Cont from Part 1. Please read my Medical Disclaimer before you continue.

I wanted to discuss a little more specifically what I am doing for SIJ relief. Again, keep in mind that I am not a physician, and my experience here should not be mistaken for medical advice. Please consult your doctor before attempting any of the therapeutic modalities I have utilized. 

I have been seeing a chiropractor twice a week. Next week we move down to once a week, and eventually every other and then as needed, if I continue to progress well which I don’t think I will, but one can always hope, right?

Naturally, he does a regular re-evaluation with me to make sure that we are on track with goals and improvement. He has been apply Rocktape (sports tape, basically) to my abdomen on the sides and beneath the belly, and then on the SIJ itself. This is to stimulate the weak muscles while suppressing the muscles that are being overworked. I don’t know if it’s working or not, but I have noticed that the SIJ taping helps me sit up straighter, and the abdominal taping is definitely adding additional support (and, therefore, pain relief).

Before we began, Kelly, my chiropractor asked me what my goals were regarding pain management. I told him I was hoping my pain would go down to a 6, and not increase above 9 (at the time I was living around 7/8 on a 1-10 pain scale). I think I’m being realistic. There is no way I can get my pain below 5. But he’s trying. He is optimistic that we may be able to get me to a 5 or under. But even he agrees that we are working against a natural process.

I also told him I want to remain as functional as possible for as long as possible. I now have two children at home that I need to care for, and my husband is already doing almost everything to spare me the pain. Its not fair to him, but neither of us want this baby to come early.

Kelly uses the Activator a lot, and has just begun manual adjustments. He wanted to hold off on them because he didn’t know how my body would respond, what with me being high risk. I totally get his concern.

His first manual adjustment was last thursday, and that night I slept better than I have slept in four months. I had the same result on monday night after my adjustment. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to wake up feeling rested and without pain! And for those who are sceptical of chiropractors? I don’t think 90 minutes of massage therapy could give me rest like that. Nor could I afford it twice a week.

At some point I plan on trying acupuncture (another therapy recommended by the maternal fetal specialists), but I’m not there yet. Think about it: needles nearby children under the age of 6? I would need a sitter, which is just one more expense I can’t afford to deal with right now.

I have been wearing a maternity belt since the 10th week. The belt helps to support a more normal, aligned gait, and prevent my SI Joint from slipping too much while I walk. Without the belt, my “pregnancy waddle” is more pronounced because I have less control of my right leg (due to the SI Joint slipping around). I can also feel more sharp pains up and down my back and leg the longer I go without a support belt. While initially it is slightly more comfortable to walk without the belt, the pain builds up fast, and the cons of the belt are far greater than the pros. So, support belt it is.

This belt, incidentally, is the third maternity belt I have tried. The first one was from Motherhood Maternity and cost me around $30. I bought this when I was pregnant with Tiger boy (my first child), and didn’t know at the time that the SI Joint was where I needed the most support, so I wore it far too high. And it was so stiff! Cut in everywhere, especially my lower abdomen. Not fun.

The second one was some sort of overall-harness that attached to a pair of underwear. For the life of me I can’t remember where I got it, I just remember how ineffective, uncomfortable, and impractical it was. Readjusting something that complicated every time you pee is terribly inconvenient for someone who pees every hour on the hour. And I felt absolutely no support-just a lot of pain on the top of my shoulders. I ditched that sucker after less than a week.

My current version is the Curad belt. The first one I bought was an off brand hack that cost me $30. I loaned it out a year or so ago and am unable to get it back. So I was in need of another one. I went back to my previous years orders (thank goodness Amazon keeps this stuff on file) and happened upon a review noting that it was the same design as the one sold by Curad for $13. I purchased Curad’s version, and have to say-it is exactly the same. And by far the most comfortable of the options I have used so far.

But I should probably be using a sacroiliac belt. I just found out about these, so I’m not sure I want to pay for more stuff, especially since I don’t even know where to start. I will keep what I have for now, but I just may go for it if the pain dictates. And even then, only if I find a nice, cheap one with really great reviews.

I don’t suppose you happen to know of any good ones?

Cont to Part 3.

Pregnancy & SI Joint Dysfunction, Part 1.

I want to start with a disclaimer. I am not a physician, and my experiences  here should not be mistaken for the advice of a physician. Any therapy modalities noted should be not be used without first consulting your physician. I am not responsible or liable for any injuries that may occur to others who may choose to use or consider therapies I chose to employ for myself during my pregnancy. The sole purpose of my disclosure is to share my experience with the public for educational purposes only.

What is SIJ Dysfunction (Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction)? According to Wikipedia, it is:

” . . . Pain in the sacroiliac joint region that is caused by abnormal motion in the sacroiliac joint, either too much motion or too little motion. It typically results in inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, and can be debilitating . . .”

In other words, it is an underlying pelvic instability that can cause hyper or hypo mobility (too much or too little movement). I have SIJ Dysfunction. Generally speaking, causation is believed to be in the form of a strain or tear of the ligaments connecting the SIJ to the spine following a traumatic pelvic injury.

Which is what happened to me. When I was about 14, I fell down a full flight of stairs, and never received proper medical care. Though, truthfully, I may never know if anything could have been done to mitigate what would forever be a lifetime of lower back pain.

I have dealt with it pretty well. It has kept me from a few high impact activities like running, jumping, or riding a bike even bumpy roads get to me. However, as a whole, I have learned to accept that chronic pain is a part of my everyday life. I can think of worse things (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is one of them).

It wasn’t until my first pregnancy resulted in premature labor and delivery that I began to get an inkling the SIJ Dysfunction may be more insidious than I thought.

During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is produced to loosen and relax the ligaments attached to the pelvic girdle, enabling the pelvis to widen enough for delivery.

In my case, the SIJ Dysfunction, combined with relaxing ligaments, results in hyperlaxity/hypermobility of the joint. What that means for me is a pain so debilitating and overwhelming it actually irritates the uterine lining. This irritation reaches levels that trigger contractions which, if left untreated, eventually weaken and tear the amniotic sac. With Tiger boy, my first child, my water broke at 34 weeks.

And this was after I was put on bedrest by my doctors NP. I was also given Vistaril and Tylenol #3 to control the pain and the contractions. My OB was on vacation at the time, so I had to explain to him what had happened while he was away. Not understanding or believing what was happening to me, he proceeded to yell at me and advised me that I needed to stop taking both the Vistaril and the Tylenol #3. As far as he was concerned, I had ligament pain and that was it.

Three days later, my water broke. In spite of the pain and contractions, I was so afraid of my doctor that I ignored my instincts, and now I had a 4 lb preemie in the NICU, and a harrowing, 12 hour labor experience that ended with a C-section.

Thankfully my son was fine. I was even able to breastfeed him. But I now knew that my “lower back pain” was more than just that. During my labor experience, my husband and I were both able to feel the SIJ move outward at the climax of the contractions. It was not unlike the sensation you feel when you pop your knuckles. But it was 100 times more painful, and in a joint that wasn’t supposed to move like that. I still have nightmares that the right side of my pelvis is just going to pull off some day!

When it came to having my second child, I used a different OB. He placed me on progesterone injections (McKenna), and ordered physical therapy. But he did nothing to address the pain. Around 20 weeks, when my pain became unbearable, I went back to him and begged and pleaded to be given at least the Vistaril (it calms the uterine lining). Not only did he say no, but he used medical terms to tell me that my hormones were making me crazy, and it was all in my head “you are on McKenna. You won’t go into labor.”

Maybe I wouldn’t go into labor, but I had no quality of life, and I couldn’t care for my then 18 month old son. So I fired him. The DO I hired after that was a wonderful older physician who not only gave me the Vistaril, but felt I could handle the Tylenol #3 as well. I explained to him that I understood that Tylenol #3 could cause withdrawal in an infant (especially one born early), but at the doses I could tolerate (the equivalent of 1 tab a day) I felt it was unlikely. He chuckled, but he didn’t belittle or argue with me. And that time, I made it to my scheduled C-section at 39 weeks.

Now I am pregnant for the third and last time. We just found out she is a girl. I am measuring a week ahead (a first for me), and am finally at the halfway point.

My goal is to make it to 30 weeks. I just started McKenna, and the maternal fetal group my OB had me see is doing cervical ultrasounds every three weeks as a diagnostic for preterm labor. I am also doing water therapy water classes at the gym, and chiropractic webster method only. I was supposed to have Physical Therapy, but my OB just keeps forgetting to write those orders. However, I have compared the results of the chiropractic and water therapy combination, and feel they are just as effective as Physical Therapy, if not slightly more so. So I won’t push that one.

Oh, yes, and I am on Vistaril. My OB this time around really didn’t feel comfortable with Tylenol #3, but all I had to do was tell him that my water broke three days after the Vistaril was withheld, and he immediately wrote a prescription for it.

I have had a few close calls with contractions. At 17 weeks we were grocery shopping and I began to experience intense pain. I went to the car, thinking maybe it would calm down once I stopped moving (after all, Braxton Hicks is supposed to stop once rest is initiated), but it didn’t. It wasn’t until we returned home and I was able to take 50mg of Vistaril that the contractions stopped, a little over 3 hours from onset.

This is why my goal is 30 weeks. The severe pain that started at 30 weeks with the first child, and 20 with the second child . . . it began around 13 weeks with the third.

And on top of that, this hyper laxity of the SIJ and the ligaments have resulted in incomplete control of urination (after all, the musculature attached to that area is also being affected by SIJ laxity). Which means I am constantly leaking something, and I hope that something is just urine and not amniotic fluid. So far the ultrasounds indicate my fluid levels are ok. But I have to say, even though this is my third Rodeo, it is no less terrifying. 30 weeks. I have 10 more to go before I can breathe normally.

I really pray we make it.

Cont to Part 2.