7 Home Remedies for Sacroiliac Joint Pain
If you've ever felt lower back pain, hip pain, or other pelvic joint pain, then you may also have experienced — or still be experiencing — sacroiliac joint pain.
Your pelvis, hips, tailbone, and spine are a very complex and vital part of your ability to function during your day-to-day activities. One part of this system is your sacroiliac joint, which makes small yet important movements with every one of your steps. So, what happens when those joints cause you pain?
While surgery is sometimes necessary for sacroiliac joint pain, home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain also exist and can be quite useful when applied correctly. You should also consult a medical physician before implementing specific exercises or heath routines into your life.
There are a million home remedies out there on the internet, and not all of them are created equal. To help narrow down your search — and save you time and effort — I’ve put together a list of home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain that actually work.
Before we get started though, it would be helpful for you to understand more about the sacroiliac joint and how it affects your body.
What is the sacroiliac joint?
Your SI (sacroiliac) joint is where your sacrum connects to the ilium bones, and is located directly above the tailbone and is mostly immobile, allowing only four degrees of rotation. There are many soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, cartilage) that hold the SI joint in alignment and support movement. Because of the close proximity to your hips and tailbone, the SI joint is still necessary for completing everyday movements as it balances and absorbs shock from walking or jumping in the spine.
The SI joint is a self-locking joint, so it locks whenever you prepare to perform an activity like jumping or running. Since it functions so frequently during daily movements, your SI joint endures a lot of stress and tension.
For your body to perform all of the movements absorbed by the SI joint, you engage your iliopsoas muscles, commonly known as your hip flexors. You can think of the iliopsoas muscles as the puppet masters of your hip and pelvic joints and bones.
The iliacus and psoas muscles that make up the iliopsoas grab hold of your pelvis and thigh bones and help them engage in movements like sitting, standing, or kicking. These muscles work hand-in-hand with your SI joint to create comfortable movement, but they don’t always work as planned.
How to recognize sacroiliac joint pain
SI joint dysfunction has become increasingly common due to the immense stress the joint goes through day to day. However, because of its location, it can be challenging to identify where your pain is originating from, or if it is an SI joint dysfunction at all.
If you are struggling with SI joint dysfunction, pain is most often identified in the lower back region. There are plenty of other possible symptoms of sacroiliac joint pain, including:
- Difficulty balancing
- A slight burning sensation near your pelvis
- General pain in your hips, groin, or thighs
- Trouble sleeping due to discomfort in your back or hips
- Pain after sitting for long periods
Many people who experience SI joint pain will experience symptoms like those listed above in the morning after being immobile for the night, or during physical activity. Certain activities like walking up and down stairs or doing squats can also trigger intense pain, as they further engage your iliopsoas muscles and pelvic area
Common causes of sacroiliac joint pain
Since your iliopsoas muscles essentially utilize the SI joint, it is important to recognize that hip joint, pelvic joint, and SI joint pain are often associated with tight iliopsoas muscles. Since the iliopsoas muscles work in tandem with your pelvic joints, including the SI joint, if your muscles are tight, they directly impact these joints.
The primary function of the iliacus is to stabilize the hip joint and the sacroiliac joint (or SI joint), keeping those two joints aligned and strong regardless if the body is stationary (such as when sitting or standing) or if the body is moving (such as when walking or running). Other secondary functions of the iliacus include assisting in hip flexion (like marching) and hip external rotation (turning out your leg). Your body is the most comfortable when your spine, pelvis, and hips are aligned, working together with the iliopsoas muscles.
It helps to think of the iliopsoas muscles like a rubber band holding a stack of cards together. Without healthy and fully-functioning iliopsoas muscles, your hip, spine, and pelvis alignment can easily topple out of place, like a deck of cards — causing pain in your back, hips, and SI joint. This misalignment affects the way the bones move in relation to each other, and if they’re not well-aligned then they are running into each other and rubbing each other the wrong way.
Now that you are aware of what the SI joint is, and some common causes for pain in that region, let’s look at some home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain so we can help you find sacroiliac joint pain relief.
Home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain
While sacroiliac joint pain treatments will vary according to the pain's severity, many home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain can help ease symptoms.
It can be tempting to treat sacroiliac joint pain entirely at home, but it can help get the guidance of a medical professional and physical therapist. Some people will need interventions such as surgeries, steroid injections, or physical therapy.
For those who can get by without more serious treatments and interventions, here is my recommended list of home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain:
One of the fastest home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain is anti-inflammatories. A lot of sacroiliac pain is due to inflammation of your muscles and joint area. When you're first addressing your pain and other symptoms, it may be necessary to use non-habit forming anti-inflammatory medications, especially after activities that may irritate your joints.
Ice and heat therapy
If you are looking for home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain that don’t require medication, one of the best is ice and heat therapy. As mentioned above, inflammation can be a huge issue with sacroiliac pain. While anti-inflammatory drugs can be beneficial, ice and heat therapy will also relax and relieve pain. It is most helpful to alternate between ice therapy and heat therapy. Start with ice therapy on the irritated area, or where you're feeling the most pain, to bring down some of the swelling. Then, apply heat to the SI joint area to improve blood flow and relax the joint area to relieve some pain.
Some home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain require more long-term commitment. Anytime you carry excess weight in your body, you add extra stress to your joints. This is the same for your SI joint area. Excess weight, specifically on your abdomen area, adds a significant amount of stress on your spine, hip joints, pelvic joint, and the SI joints because they are working harder to keep your body upright and in a correct posture.
Losing excess weight will help keep your joints aligned, and minimize the stress put on them during daily activities. If you are experiencing back or SI joint pain, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise. The good news is that weight can be lost and maintained with a healthy diet and low-impact exercise.
SI joint pain exercises
Working exercise into your routine is important for various health reasons, but finding specific SI joint pain exercises to incorporate into your daily routine can help strengthen, balance, and stretch the SI joint area.
Not all exercises are suitable for the SI joint, though, so remember that if it causes you pain to perform a stretch or exercise, listen to your body and stop. As you alleviate more of the SI joint pain, more exercises may become easier and more comfortable.
There are a variety of yoga poses that help both stretch and strengthen the SI joint area. They are great home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain. A few of the best joint pain exercises include:
- Cobra pose
- Child's pose
- Bird dog
- Single and double knee to chest
- Hip and knee rolls side to side
Wear an SI joint brace
One of the most prevalent home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain, especially when dealing with severe SI joint pain, is to wear a sacroiliac joint belt or brace. The use of an SI joint belt is most common in people that experience SI joint pain and also have hypermobile joints. Sacroiliac joint belts support and compress the joint area, and prevent the joints from moving too much.
Luckily, most SI joint belts and braces are quite low profile and can be worn under clothing. However, the SI joint braces should not be seen as a long-term solution, simply as a stepping stone to provide some relief throughout the sacroiliac joint pain treatment process.
Eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet
If you are looking for dietary home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain, avoiding and minimizing your consumption of inflammatory foods can be helpful.
Highly inflammatory foods to avoid include:
- Sugar (including high fructose corn syrup)
- Vegetable and seed oil
- Artificial trans fats
- Refined carbohydrates
- Processed meats
Along with avoiding inflammatory foods, you can also consider introducing more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, including:
- Green tea
Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet cuts out highly processed, sugary, and fried inflammatory foods and introduces more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Iliopsoas muscle release
At this point, you may not be surprised that one of the most efficient home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain actually targets your iliopsoas muscles. Since the iliopsoas muscle is so intimately connected to your sacroiliac joints' well-being and function, tight iliopsoas muscles can cause additional SI joint pain. Watch a video to understand more about how tight hip flexors affect SI joint pain.
Although some stretching can help, stretching alone won’t fully address muscle tightness and in some cases can worsen it. The best way to release these muscles is with precise, prolonged (30-90 seconds) pressure. Reaching your hip flexor muscles with average massage tools like foam rollers is very difficult because of the location. You may get some relief when going to the physical therapist because they can reach the iliopsoas muscle with their hands.
For the best iliopsoas muscle release results, you’ll need to use a tool designed specifically for releasing your hip flexors. Designed by a physical therapist, the only muscle release tool with the ability to effectively reach and release your psoas and iliacus muscles is the Hip Hook.
Once all the hip flexor muscles are released, you should notice a marked difference in your SI joint pain.
Piriformis muscle release
The piriformis is a muscle in the back of your hip, and easily found by laying on your back with your knees bent and placing a massage ball in the middle of your buttcheek. Allowing your muscles to relax over the Hip Flexor Release Ball for 30-90 seconds. You can use this to release tension in the back of the hip. When the piriformis becomes tight, it pulls on the sacrum and ilium and can lead to compression or misalignment around the SI joint. As you continue to move your body with these supporting muscles not functioning optimally, the sacrum and ilium rub each other the wrong way and cause the soft tissues inside the joint to become irritated.
A tight piriformis muscle often goes hand-in-hand with tight hip flexors, like your iliacus and psoas muscles. This is because your body is searching for balance on each side of the hip. If the hip flexors on the front of the hip are tight and pulling the pelvis, the muscles on the back side of the hip (like the piriformis) will tighten up and play a game of tug-of-war. This combination of a tight iliacus and tight piriformis is very common among people who are experiencing SI joint pain.
Lasting sacroiliac joint pain relief and treatments
Joint pain can be a mysterious and difficult type of pain both to diagnose and treat. Sacroiliac joint pain treatments are increasingly complicated because of the complexity of bones, muscles, and other structures that allow mobility in your daily movements.
With more understanding of the anatomical structures in your pelvic area, you can better understand how to implement sacroiliac joint pain exercises and other home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain into your daily life.
Luckily, as you begin to understand how your body works together and connects, implementing home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain can help you manage your discomfort, and get back to doing the things you love.
FAQs about home remedies for sacroiliac joint pain
Is walking good for sacroiliac pain?
Low-impact movement, like walking, will be most helpful if you release the muscles around the SI joint beforehand, like the hip flexors and piriformis. This way, your muscles are able to hold the SI joint in better alignment, without rubbing, and your body is developing healthy, flexible movement patterns.
What movements cause SI joint pain?
Twisting movements, or anything that puts uneven pressure on your pelvis, can spark SI joint pain. It’s almost impossible to go through life without making these movements (running, shoveling your driveway, getting into a car) so working with the muscular imbalances in the pelvis and iliopsoas is a better solution than avoiding certain movements. We want to expand your life, not limit it!