When people are experiencing painful symptoms that are potentially caused by their sacroiliac (SI) joint, the pain can be ongoing, severe, and may interrupt daily activities. Work might be difficult or impossible. Playing with kids or climbing a single set of stairs might bring tears to the eyes. Top of many peoples’ minds may be finding the best, longest lasting, or perhaps fastest remedy.
Every individual and every situation is unique. When searching for the best way to relieve your back pain, here are a few things to consider:
What caused the lower back pain, and is it SI joint related?
Knowing what caused your symptoms can help determine the right treatment plan for you. Start by writing down a few key facts:
- When did your lower back pain start?
- Where is the pain located on your body, and how does it feel?
- When the pain flares up, how often does it do so, and what are you doing at the time?
- What, if anything, relieves the pain?
Pain that’s coming from your SI joint could be due to a specific traumatic event (disruption) or could develop over time (degeneration).
If you have not yet seen a doctor and your pain is interfering with your daily life, consider bringing the answers to the above questions with you to your next appointment.
If you suspect that the pain is caused by your SI joint, you might wish to reach out to a doctor who specializes in SI joint dysfunction and treatment. Here is a directory to find a trained SI joint doctor who can answer your specific lower back pain questions.
What are the best back pain relief options?
Once you know what caused your lower back pain, and you have an accurate diagnosis of SI joint dysfunction, you’ll be ready to start down the path of treatment. Your doctor will recommend starting with non-surgical options; many of these you can administer at home.
Some non-surgical options include taking over-the-counter medications, physical therapy, stretching, chiropractic care, and therapeutic injections. The goal of these therapies is to decrease the pain and improve the function of the joint. If your SI joint is to blame, these therapies may only provide temporary pain relief.
How do you know which options are right for you? The best thing to do is to find a specialist in your area who has been trained in treating the kind of pain you have. If you suspect the pain is SI joint-related, find a doctor that will perform the right diagnostic tests, including provocative tests, imaging, and diagnostic injections, in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Here are a few common questions patients bring to their specialist at the beginning of their treatment journey:
- Is it better to sit or lie down with lower back pain?
- Should I apply hot or cold compresses to address the chronic pain in my back?
- Should I see a chiropractor?
- Would a back brace help?
- What are the best stretches for this kind of pain? Should I be stretching at all?
- What is the best painkiller for severe back pain?
When the pain is severe, chronic, and interrupts daily activities, the fastest way to relieve the pain for good is to make an appointment with your doctor. If you feel like you need a second opinion, or an SI joint specialist, refer to this list of doctors.
When non-surgical treatments aren’t working, what’s the next best thing for lower back pain?
The symptoms of SI joint-related back pain vary, and the specific treatment plan that’s best for you will too. If you’ve tried your doctor-recommended non-surgical options for six months, and all you have experienced is temporary relief or even more back pain, then it’s time to ask your doctor about other options.
With a confirmed SI joint pain diagnosis and six months of non-surgical treatments behind you, minimally invasive surgery may be the best way to relieve lower back pain. This is not traditional or “open” surgery. Minimally invasive SI joint fusion requires a smaller surgical incision, and less time in surgery (about an hour) than open surgery. A minimally invasive approach often leads to less time at the hospital, and potentially faster healing time.
No doubt you have more back pain questions than ever. Minimally invasive surgery is something to consider especially when chronic lower back pain caused by the SI joint has not responded to non-surgical treatments over time. Before making a decision, ask your doctor these important questions:
- What are the benefits of minimally invasive SI joint fusion?
- What are the clinical results of the SI joint fusion method you are recommending?
- What can I expect from minimally invasive SI joint surgery?
- How long will the healing process take?
- Will SI joint fusion affect a future pregnancy or natural birth?
- Am I a good candidate for this type of surgery?
- Will my insurance cover SI joint fusion?
More lower back pain questions related to SI joint fusion?
Determining the best back pain relief plan for you might start with reading everything about SI joint dysfunction and treatments. Everyone is unique, and your treatment plan should be customized to your specific health condition. Some people needing an SI joint fusion have had other injuries or surgeries that cause SI joint pain, such as a car or work accident or a previous lumbar fusion surgery. Others experience SI joint pain after giving birth and have concerns when they are planning to have another baby.
Only your doctor can help you make educated decisions about your path to pain relief and what’s right for you and your life. If you have questions about SI joint fusion, specifically regarding the iFuse Implant System®, available since 2009, you can ask a nurse, read patient stories, call patient support at 866-588-5319, or contact an SI joint surgeon in your area.
The bottom line is, if you have been experiencing lower back pain for more than a couple weeks or the pain is preventing you from doing the things you normally do, such as go to work, sleep well, carry a bag, sit comfortably, take a walk, or climb stairs, it’s time to see a doctor.
Remember to bring your list of symptoms and questions about non-surgical treatments, surgical options, and the clinical results of those options. You do not have to live with severe or chronic lower back pain. You have options.