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How to Find Relief for Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain

by Patty Weasler, RN April 29, 2020 0 Comments

Woman sleeps with Ice pack

Finding SI joint pain relief doesn’t have to be complicated. There are multiple self-care options like stretching, exercise, braces, and more that can be tried in the comfort of your own home. If those treatments don’t give you relief then using medical treatments like steroid injections or nerve ablations may be the right path. Find all the best options here and get on your way to a pain-free day.


Most SI joint pain can be treated with self-care techniques. Your doctor will likely recommend that you stop activities and sports that cause pain and let your body rest. Rest will give the inflammation around your sacroiliac joint time to dissipate. After a bit of rest, below are treatment options that you can do at home.

  • Stretches and Exercises

    Stretching and exercise are two key treatments to relieving the back pain caused by sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Exercise will strengthen supporting muscles to better support the sacroiliac joint. Stretching reduces muscle tension and spasms which can be a large contributing cause to pain.

    Stretches for SI Joint Pain

    Exercises for SI Joint Pain

  • Supports and Braces

    Wearing a brace or support around your hips can reduce movement and provide some lower back pain relief. A brace can give your body time to heal and support the muscles and joints but won’t fix the cause of the problem. Use a brace sparingly, as it can also cause the nearby muscles to weaken if used too long.

  • Ice or Heat

    Ice and heat work in opposite, yet complementary ways to treat sacroiliac joint pain. Icing the injury will numb the pain and reduce swelling. Whereas, heat soothes sore muscles and brings more blood to the area. Use ice first and in 20-minute intervals. After the initial injury phase has passed you can use heat therapy to ease your low back pain.

  • TENS Therapy

    A TENS unit is a small, portable device that sends an electrical signal through adhesive patches that are placed near the area of pain. The electrical signal disrupts pain signals providing pain relief for a period of time. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments. Using a TENS unit to treat SI joint pain can be a great choice for people who want medication-free pain relief while they’re on the go or at home.

  • Pain Cream

    Pain creams work in different ways, depending on the ingredients. Some pain creams numb the area by cooling the skin, which provides pain relief. Other pain cream heats the injury site, interrupting the pain signal. Both can be effective when used with additional treatment options for SI joint pain.

  • Lifestyle Changes

    Your lifestyle is a key factor in recovering from lower back pain due to your SI joint. You’ll need to adjust your diet by eating more foods that fight inflammation, minimize physical activities, and improve your sleep pattern. It’s also important to learn how to sit with SI joint pain to keep from worsening symptoms throughout the day.

How to Improve Your Sleeping Posture for SI Pain

Medical Treatment

If self-care treatment isn’t working then medical treatment is the next step. You’ll need to see your doctor, who will review your medical history and perform an initial physical exam. After reviewing any imaging, like an x-ray, your doctor will give you medical advice on how you should proceed with treatment. Below we cover the medical treatment options for SI joint pain.

  • Surgery

    SI joint dysfunction surgery is done as a last resort for people who didn’t find relief with other treatment options. Patients will typically have a joint fusion where a surgeon connects the sacrum and ilium together with screws, rods, or a bone graft. This eliminates movement in the SI joint which, in turn, should eliminate pain. Recovery from fusion surgery can be anywhere from three to six months.

  • Nerve Ablations

    Also called radiofrequency ablation (RFA), nerve ablation is a procedure where a needle is inserted and heat is transmitted from the needle to the irritated nerve causing a heat lesion. The lesion prevents the nerve from sending the pain signal to the brain. Nerve ablations are typically used if other treatments have failed but before surgery.

  • Joint Injections

    Steroid injections work as an anti-inflammatory by reducing swelling in the joint. Your doctor will first inject a local anesthetic into the area then inject the steroid medication. The pain relief will be temporary but the procedure can be repeated for additional relief.

  • Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is an alternative treatment option that can ease pain in those who have lower back pain. A trained acupuncturist will insert tiny needles into your skin at different depths. The needles will either encourage or block the energy pathway in the body. When combined with other pain management strategies, acupuncture can be a good option.

  • Physical Therapy

    Physical therapy can be an excellent resource if you develop SI joint pain. A physical therapist is a trained healthcare professional that will provide you with specific movements to help you reduce inflammation and strengthen muscles. They will also be able to analyze your movement to determine if you have imbalances that need to be corrected.


Preventing SI joint pain is always the goal and learning what the causes are of this condition will help you avoid it from happening. While every cause isn’t avoidable, in some cases you can modify your lifestyle to decrease your chances. Here are the most common causes of SI joint pain:

  • Falling
  • Pregnancy and/or childbirth
  • Work injury
  • Car accident
  • Hip and spine surgery

While prevention may not always be possible there are a few steps you can take to help keep the pain away. Here is a checklist of prevention techniques that you can try at home:

  • Maintain proper posture
  • Use good ergonomics when sitting at a desk
  • Warm-up your SI joint before exercise
  • Stretch and exercise on a regular basis
  • Avoid excess weight and eat a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke

Learn about how to sleep with SI joint pain in our full article.


Pain medications are another line of treatment for SI joint pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, can be found over-the-counter and provide temporary relief. Acetaminophen is another pain medication that works differently but still gives users some pain relief. As always, talk to your doctor or a pharmacist before you start a new medication.

Safe & Effective Treatment for SI Joint Pain Relief

When it comes to treating your SI joint pain safety and effectiveness need to be at the top of your checklist. Initially, self-care treatments can be tried at home to reduce swelling and pain. If those options aren’t successful then it’s time to turn to medical treatments. Talk to your doctor to help you determine the best treatment plan to get you back to doing all the activities you enjoy.


Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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