30 weeks: More than you ever wanted to know about my sacroiliac joint {pregnancy update}

Last Tuesday I didn’t post much of an update because Perry and I were headed to the beach for an overnight trip to celebrate our 20th anniversary on the following day.  It was a wonderful time together, but unfortunately I spent much of it in pain.  Even though I had been at the chiropractor just a couple of days before, my back was so stiff and sore that I could hardly walk on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

On Wednesday, still at the beach, we searched google and found a nearby chiropractor who had experience doing adjustments during pregnancies and could fit me in on short notice.  It wasn’t how I had envisioned spending our anniversary, but I also didn’t envision spending the day hobbling slowly and painfully everywhere I went, or curled in the fetal position on a hotel bed.  He commented that I was way out of alignment, but that I had adjusted very easily, and I left the office feeling better than I had in days.

The relief lasted about 45 minutes.

Since then, it hasn’t been as bad as it was initially but I have had varying amounts of pain and a lot of stiffness.  Since visiting the chiropractor every 45 minutes just doesn’t fit my lifestyle and having the chiropractor move in with us probably wouldn’t fit his lifestyle, we decided to look for alternatives.  My first thought was that maybe Perry could learn to do the adjustment.  I know that sounds scary, but we’re not talking full chiro neck-and-spine-crunching; just a simple pop of the pelvis that I’ve had done several times now.  Maybe the internet would provide safe, clear and simple instructions?

As it turns out, that wasn’t such a crazy idea.  There are several descriptions of the procedure, but better yet there are some stretches and exercises that can help the sufferer – that’s me – to adjust themselves without any external applications of force.  In trying out what I learned, I almost immediately felt and heard a loud POP and most of my pain and stiffness disappeared.  I actually get this pop pretty regularly, but before this I never knew why and hadn’t pinpointed exactly what movements triggered it.

It didn’t stay gone long, but I learned that if I do these stretches morning, evening and several times in between, I can feel about 80% better.  That’s enough to make me very happy!

Here’s a quick overview of what’s causing my problem.  It seems to be especially common during pregnancy, when the hormone relaxin loosens our joints and allows more than the usual range of motion.

The pelvis is made up of 3 bones: the sacrum and two ilia (plural of ilium).  Where they join in the back, you have your sacroiliac joints.  Make sense so far?

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The bones fit together with a series of grooves and notches that can vary from one person to the next.  These joints are tightly bound by ligaments and only move a tiny bit, but that very small movement is essential to nearly any movement that involves our legs, torso or pelvis.

Here’s the problem: if your joint moves a little too much – either from being injured or forced or because it is too loose – it’s possible for the notches to “lock” into the wrong position, often with one bone tilted slightly inward and the other tilted slightly outward.  This can put continuous, painful tension on the ligaments and muscles that connect to the area.  They are stuck in a position that stretches them beyond their normal, comfortable range and makes any additional motion even more painful.  It may happen only on one side, but the pain and stiffness can radiate and nearly immobilize the entire pelvis.

When my lower back was hurting so badly, Perry noticed that I had a bony lump on the more painful side.  It wasn’t big or even particularly noticeable, but it was definitely there.  In retrospect it was, of course, the edge of my misaligned sacrum.  The chiropractor was able to easily snap it back into place, because my joints are loose due to pregnancy.  However, the same looseness that makes it easy to fix also makes it easy for the problem to recur.  Even worse, some people believe that repeated forceful adjustments like that can exacerbate the problem by stretching the ligaments and making the joint more likely to slip out of place in the future.

The solution?  Those stretches I linked above.  They don’t get rid of inflammation caused by days of misalignment, but done regularly they will gently help to keep things properly aligned and may help snap things back into place when misaligned.  The inflammation has subsided over the last few days as I do my best to keep things in their proper place.

There are other stretches, exercises, etc that may be helpful if you suffer from a similar problem.  If you are prone to lower back pain, I would encourage you to spend some time on google.  You might find that many of those pregnancy aches and pains can be explained and fixed without spending a lot on repeated visits to the chiropractor.

Belly pics

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Baby at 30 weeks:

  • Baby measurements are 16 inches and weighs about 3 pounds, and will gain about 1/2 lb per week for the next 2 months.
  • Baby is getting fatter and beginning to control its own body temperature.
  • Baby’s bone marrow is now responsible for red cell production.
  • more
Your turn:
How are you and your little one this week?  What’s new?  Share a pic!
Previous pregnancy updates:

Comments

  1. I didn’t read all the other comments to see if anyone had already suggested this, but I’ve found pregnancy back relief from doing T-tapp. I’ve had back issues since #2 (just had #8). At 4 months my back always turns to mush and I hobble/wobble around the rest of the pregnancy. I’ve learned to manage it over the years, but before the last pregnancy I started doing T-tapp. She promotes it as helpful for back pain so I faithfully continued during my last pregnancy. It made a big difference. I’d say my pain/discomfort was lessened by 80%. It only got really bad when I stood for long stretches of time, but then I could do some of her exercises/stretches and it would relieve the pain. I also have a friend (another mom of 8) who had been going to the chiropracter 1-2 times a week for several years becuase of hip problems. Pregnancy made things worse too. She also started t-tapp and within 2 weeks she said her hip pain was less than it had been in years and that she no longer needed to go to the chiropracter. So…maybe a little T-tapp would help you too. :o)

  2. Thanks for the link to the SI stretches and exercises. That is something I’ve struggled with for years, pregnant or not. And currently 29 1/2 weeks pregnant, it’s been acting up a bit more.

    Another interesting thing I’ve been experiencing is a separation of my tummy muscles aka diastasis recti. I’d heard of a lot of pregnant women dealing with this, but I didn’t know, until I talked to my midwife, that it is NOT a normal unavoidable thing. It started out as a burny stretchy sort of pain just above my belly button that got much worse every time I did something that used those muscles, like switching wet clothes from the washer to dryer, loading/unloading the dishwasher, coughing, sneezing, laughing, picking up my toddler, etc, etc. My midwife recommended I see The Tummy Team. http://www.thetummyteam.com/ They are physical therapists that specialize in the abdominals and pelvic floor. I have had two appointments and absolutely recommend them! Their point of view is that to have core and repair a separation, you first must strengthen you transverse abdominus. Even if your readers aren’t from my neck of the woods, there may be someone in their area that specializes in this.

  3. Thank you! That pain started early this pregnancy, and I’m hoping the stretches help for my remaining six months of relaxin. One thing I found helps me is wrapping an ace bandage tightly around my hips to prevent it from popping out.

    Oh, I was totally caught off guard with the guy in the video. For some reason I was expecting a pregnant lady to be doing the stretches. :)

  4. That was the best description I have heard about the SI joint — and I worked in a chiropractic office for three months!! Thank you!

    I hadn’t checked in here in a while — you’ve gotten big! God’s blessings on your day…

    • Melanie, thanks! I’m glad to know I got it right. I know to take everything on the Internet with a grain of salt, so it’s good to hear confirmation from someone with real life experience.

  5. My fourth baby was larger than my others, and she sat very low in my pelvis putting a lot of pressure on that area. The pain was unbelievable. Sometimes I couldn’t even lift my foot to slip it into a shoe. Thankfully, I didn’t have as much problem with the next pregnancy. I tried exercises, too, but they only helped a little. Glad you’re doing some better.

  6. I *think* I had the same joint issue with my last pregnancy, but it could be a slightly different one. I don’t know. One way I found relief and was able to pop my back was when I was on hands & knees letting the baby’s gravity pull her down. My husband rubbed my low back and after a few minutes, gravity and the baby’s pressure off my low back helped it release. It was noisy. But it felt better!

    I’d also try lying flat on my back (for a brief time!) on the floor with my legs elevated at a 90-angle along the couch. Kind of rotate and stretch and twist a little and that helped.

    Good ol’ relaxin. Nice for while in labor but before that, eep!

  7. Wow! Now if I had only known this nifty technique 15 babies ago…

  8. Congrats to Deanna! They look very cute together. He seems boyish and impish, a little like Perry?! :-)

    I’m 41 weeks today. I’ve never gone to my due date so it’s emotionally and physically trying. I’m praying lots for patience! My worry is that I’ll go another week and end up in a hospital with an induction. :(

    • Carrie, I feel your pain on being overdue. My first two came at 36 & 37 weeks. So when my third didn’t come until 42 weeks I thought I would lose my mind! Will your doctor support trying natural induction remedies or methods such as foley cathedar induction or sweeping of the membranes?

  9. This is amazing to me to come across this right now, I have been struggling with this for over a year and a half now, since my 2nd last child was about 18 months (not during that pregnancy). It seemed to start when I was digging my potatoes! It jammed up and out of place, and the doctor sent me to a physiotherapist, who popped it back in like a chiropractor would. But same thing exactly, it happened over and over. He taught my husband how to do it, but I discovered a couple ways to usually successfully do it myself, and I do, numerous times a day. I need more exercises than the one suggested to me then to get this figured out. I have since had another baby, and the problem is the same for me pregnant or not. I have never heard of anyone else with this issue, and I feel very encouraged and inspired thanks to reading your story, and am now going to go check out what you suggested! Thank you!

  10. We dressed up a rather plain, grocery store wedding cake this way: In stead of using standard white plastic tiers, we took some pretty wine glasses(about a 2oz size) and inverted them, then under each glass, placed a single fresh blossom of alstromeria(an edible flower), with a couple green leaves. We also placed more of these blossoms around the cake, and it was lovely. The bouquet of flowers? Less than five dollars. If you made your own cake?? Could be really cheap…the wine glasses, already had them on hand…easy!

  11. Happy Anniversary to you.
    Happy Anniversary to you.
    Happy Anniversary, dear Kim.
    Happy Anniversary to you!
    And may you have many more of them to share together.
    I am happy that you were able to work out your aches and pains. The good ole internet. : )

  12. Got to meet our new little one this month!! Here is the birth story with pictures :D

    http://crunchylutheranmommy.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/stephens-birth-story-part-i/

    • Dalas, I love birth stories, and yours is a great one! Thanks for taking time to share it, and congratulations on meeting your new little one!

  13. Wow thanks for the link, I know what I’ll be researching in my spare time today! I’ve been told that my hips loosen more than most peoples, but that’s the extent of any sort of diagnosis. What you’re describing actually sounds a lot like me. It was so bad yesterday I could hardly walk, and there’s no bending down anymore. When I went to classes with my first child they showed our partners how to apply pressure right in that spot, maybe that’s what they were aiming to do without actually saying as much.

    My belly isn’t very big, I seem to carry babies far back, but I feel huge at this point, because my body just dosen’t want to move the way it used to.

  14. This is so helpful! My sacrum is constantly out. My baby is also in the transverse position and I had wondered if those two things were connected. Have you had this with all pregnancies, just the later ones, has it increased in frequency? I don’t remember this with my other children. This is my fifth pregnancy.

  15. How cool that you found some DIY treatments and how wonderful that they are helping! I am 29 weeks and have a similar loose-ligament problem. Instead of “pain in the rear”, mine is from my pubic bone joints (that are supposed to be stable) rubbing together. Ahh… the joys and aches of pregnancy. :) Going to check out your stretches to see if they’ll help me!

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