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Back Pain - "Stuck" Sacroiliac Joint?

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  • Back Pain - "Stuck" Sacroiliac Joint?

    I have been experiencing back pain for the past 2 years, mostly after riding. I have been seeing a chiropractor for the past year with no real relief from the pain. I recently saw a sports medicine doctor who referred me to a physical therapist. During my evaluation with the PT, she determined that my sacroiliac joint (joint where the spine attaches to the pelvis) was "stuck" causing severe compensation when I walk, ride, sit, etc. I will be undergoing PT to correct this issue and strengthen my core. I can't pinpoint a specific event or fall that could have caused the issue. I have found that riding with a deep seat and motions like sitting the trot or a big canter have caused more pain then the walk or posting trot. Is this issue common among riders or has anyone dealt with this issue?

    My eventer will be going out on a long-term lease in about a week. I have access to plenty of horses to ride, but I am not sure if I should continue riding while trying to fix the joint. I will obviously be asking my PT about it. Has anyone else experienced this? What have you done to help fix the problem? Did you ride through it? I hate to give up riding, even for a short time, but is it my only option?


  • #2
    There are many different injuries, and different cures, but with that in mind I had a painful SI for about four years. Couldn't get in and out of a car, bend, ride, etc. The pain was in the area of the dimple below my waist. Finally, I went to a PT wo happened to be a specialist in this and in fact goes to the US and teaches the manoeuvre. He tested me by standing behind me and pushing gently on my hip - I couldn't help myself, I took a step forward.

    By lying on my back he stood at the end of the bed and took hold of my foot, wiggled it a bit and gave a gentle tug, repeated on the other leg. No pain, very gentle. Immediately I was much better. (Actually soreer the next day, and then better). Returned a couple of times for tune-up and never had trouble again.

    He did say it was a hard knack to teach --- but so easy on me and such a relief.
    Amazing. Find someone like that.
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


    • #3
      I had a chiro do the same move that Foxtrot's described, only she placed foam edges under my hips first. My problem was my SI, which had been injured in a fall.

      My chiro said that it can take three months for an SI injury to stop hurting, and it was almost exactly three months when I noticed that I was no longer in pain. I did not ride during that time and had regular chiro (after a visit to my primary care provider for an xray and drugs). However, I can imagine that a chronic problem like yours might not follow that timeline, obviously.

      The PT is absolutely a good idea. I also wonder whether it might help to try a different chiro. And if you feel that your PT isn't helping, you can try another one (my friend who is a PT has told me this).
      Taco Blog
      *T3DE 2010 Pact*


      • #4
        PT is the way to go!

        I've had SI problems for many years (hereditary issue). The chiro couldn't help me much so I did physical therapy. I like physical therapy because when I am "off", I can just fix it myself by doing the exercises given to me. Don't worry, you'll be back to riding in no time!


        • #5
          When I was a working student this past summer, I actually got kicked in the back (right in my left back dimple). I managed to work through it and kept on riding. For me, it was worse not to be active and moving around. Sitting or standing still made the area very stiff and prone to locking up (still does).

          I went to a massage therapist about a month after the kick and she told me that the left side of that joint was quite locked. She gave me an exercise to do everyday to help open it up. I noticed a significant improvement and could really tell if I slacked a day or two.

          She had me lay down on the floor with my knees up. She placed her hands on the outsides of my knees and had me push against them, making sure I first tucked my tailbone in; she provided resistance with her hands. She kept making her hands wider and wider so that my legs were pushing from farther and farther apart. Apparently, the stretch is supposed to activate the joint and help to open it up. Because none of my immediate friends or family were strong enough to resist my legs, I made a loop out of a yoga strap and put it where her hands went and pushed against the strap. I would adjust the strap 2 or 3 times to make the loop bigger, and thus making my legs go wider.

          It's been over four months since this happened. I still have pain and discomfort in the area but it's not crippling. What I've found works best for me is daily yoga. Just a little bit (1/2-1 hr) every day helps my body feel more open, better aligned and less locked in place.

          Good luck! I hope you find something that works for you.


          • #6
            My SI is always out of wack. I go to the chiro frequently and I'm an OT so my PT counterparts work on me frequently. It does affect my riding but I'm kinda used to it so I just go to my chiro when it's really bad and he fixes me real quick and says come back when I need him. It's really kinda funny...I started going to the chiro, then my mom, my aunt and both my brothers started going and all of us have SI problems.
            There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse-Robert Smith Surtees
            Breeding TBs, Connemaras and TB/Conn crosses for eventing


            • #7
              My PT gave me this device.
              Yes, it looks silly but it does work.


              • #8
                You may find a GOOD deep tissue massuse to be of more benefit for the issue than your chiro. I would continue the PT and find a good massuse. Just a heads up tho, the best way to relax your SI's via massage involves working on your glutes, so you may feel more comfortable with a female. I have had 'arthritic changes' on rads of both my SI's for about 3 years now, and they get sore frequently. Now that I'm 7 months pregnant it's even worse, and I have really found my massuse to be my best friend now more than ever!

                If it's only one side that's giving you problems you may want to also analyze if there is something you're doing that is causing you to relock the joint. Sometimes the way you sleep, sit or walk or even the way you ride might be causing the problem to reoccur, in which case you're not really going to fx it until you fix the source.
                You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!


                • #9
                  I have found that lot of people say that chiro work doesn't help them. My theory is that it is not working b/c they are not getting any muscle work to help them out with it. If you don't loosen up those muscles, they're just gonna pull your spine back to where it was before the chiro work.

                  Every chance I can afford it, I go to a woman who does neuro-muscular massage work on me. I had a bad fall that caused a muscle spasm in my neck a month later, and ever since then, that area is prone to injury. But her work on me is amazing! If you've never had that kind of a massage, you may want to check it out.

                  I actually figured out how all this works by having to go through the massage/chiro work with my horse's SI joint. He LOVES it too!


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you all for the advice!

                    I did get a recommendation for a different chiropractor within my medical group. When I see my PT on Wednesday I will ask what her recommendations are for continuing with Chiro/Massage/etc. She did mention that when we were done, I would be able to "unstick" myself if I feel that it's starting to lock up. She came highly recommended (she's the PT for the Milwaukee Bucks, and a polo player herself), so I'm hoping she will be able to help me quite a bit.

                    Thanks again!


                    • #11
                      I have intermittent SI problems. Chiro does help mine, he does a kind of twist with my leg flexed that seems to help it get back where it belongs and unstuck. Otherwise, I just spend about a week really torqued but it finally fixes itself.

                      One thing I have found--it will go "out" fairly reliably if I wear Dansko clogs. Just that little bit of heel (I've *never* worn high heel shoes) is enough to do whatever to my back to mess it up. So, I try to stay in flat shoes.

                      Better if I keep up some core strengthening exercises. Also, avoid bucking horses, one funny land on their back (nevermind hitting the ground) and it can go out, usually not immediately, but within a few days.

                      Mine started back when I was riding Monstr a lot, he was quite large and very rough due to his muscle issues. But mostly I think it was his size (and I'm not small myself). My more normal sized (~16h) QHs cause very little problem, in fact sitting some soft trot with a little side-to-side motion can be good therapy.
                      "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                      Spay and neuter. Please.


                      • #12
                        I had chronic SI problems for maybe 20 years culminating in my back finally "going out" when my son was 2, so 3(ish) years ago? I had seen 3 or 4 different chiros regularly over the preceding years with absolutely no change. They would make my back feel better for maybe half an hour and then the old twinge would be back again. It was a horrible pain right down between my hips. After [another] useless chiro appointment I started seeing a PT. She told me that my back was massively over muscled and my front was undermuscled and that was contributing to the problem. She had me do some exercises that helped a little, but really not much.

                        I finally found a chiropractor that works in a similar way as my [brilliant] horse chiro. He worked on my body in a pattern that he claimed would teach it to "fix" itself. I saw him for a grand total of 10 appointments which 100% fixed my chronic back pain. I was as skeptical as they come, but the fact that I haven't had even the tiniest twinge since the 3rd or 4th appointment has made me a believer. I don't know if there are other chiros out there that use his method (or whether he would have links to people around the country???), but you can check his website at www.gaitlink.com.

                        I've found that bodywork of any kind is a tough one to find real help with (same goes for my equine body workers!). I'm not sure it really matters "what type" of technique a bodyworker does (chiro, acupuncture, massage, PT, etc). If they're good they can fix you through a variety of methods, but boy can it be hard to find a truly GOOD one!
                        Flying F Sport Horses
                        Horses in the NW


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Horsegal984 View Post
                          You may find a GOOD deep tissue massuse to be of more benefit for the issue than your chiro. I would continue the PT and find a good massuse. Just a heads up tho, the best way to relax your SI's via massage involves working on your glutes, so you may feel more comfortable with a female.

                          And don't forget...hurts like HELL!!! Stretching is also really important...and something most of us don't do enough of. Hope that you feel better. I wouldn't quit riding but that is just me...I think the riding can make it worse but also help you get stronger.
                          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                            And don't forget...hurts like HELL!!! Stretching is also really important...and something most of us don't do enough of. Hope that you feel better. I wouldn't quit riding but that is just me...I think the riding can make it worse but also help you get stronger.
                            Yes but it hurts so good!! lol Hope the OP gets some relief soon, it's a real pain in the ass.
                            You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!