SI joint pain is a common complaint during pregnancy but often persists after delivery for a variety of reasons. If this sounds like you, let’s look at some of the reasons you may be having SI joint pain after your baby is born.
Additionally, I’ll cover some of the best strategies for relieving pain in the SI joint after pregnancy it that is something you’re experiencing.
SI Joint Pain After Pregnancy: 3 Reasons Why.
- You’ve been carrying extra weight in your lower abdominal region and it has changed your spine. After 9 months of your body working hard to grow a baby and a good portion of those months carrying weight in your lower abdomen, the posture of your spine actually changes. Pregnancy weight shifts your center of gravity forward. In response to this, your lower back (lumbar) curve increases thus changing how you distribute the load. The joints in the back of your spine and especially the SI joints can become fixated, compressed, inflamed and painful.
- The ligaments that surround and support the SI joint are loose thanks to the pregnancy hormone relaxin. Relaxin hormone does exactly what it sounds like, it relaxes the ligaments around the SI joint and allows the pelvis to expand. Normally, SI joints keep the joint capsule tight and supportive – something that’s not compatible with a growing baby. As your relaxin hormone increases, peaking in the first trimester, the SI joint is no longer tight but instead becomes much more moveable. After pregnancy, the baby is no longer occupying this space but the SI joints can still maintain that excess motion that’s no longer necessary.
This image shows some of the ligaments around your SI joint. Look how large some of them are and imagine how much they change during pregnancy!
3. In some cases, the surfaces of the iliac bone or bones may undergo permanent boney changes, a condition called osteitis condensans illi. This occurs in roughly 1-3 % of the population and is more common in woman who’ve had a baby. It’s characterized by a boney build up around the SI joint called sclerosis. Unfortunately, this boney build up is there to stay and is thought to be a consequence of the SI joints being overloaded during pregnancy. This results in a permanently changed SI joint that can be inflamed, painful, and dysfunction.
Wondering how common it is to have SI joint pain after pregnancy? It’s more common than you think –> See this study that found 26% of postpartum women have SI joint dysfunction.
Strategies For Relieving SI Joint Pain After Pregnancy
Relieving SI joint after pregnancy can be achieved with a few strategies. The good news is that for the most part relief is rehab and therapy focused and doesn’t involve procedures like surgery. Let’s take a look at some rehab strategies for relieving SI joint pain.
- Chiropractic adjustments also called spinal manipulative therapy. Adjusting or manipulating the SI joint is an excellent evidence-based treatment used as part of the rehab strategy. In the case of SI joint pain after pregnancy, chiropractic adjustments serve primarily as a pain relief treatment and affect the joint receptors that communicate with the brain. See some of my content on this treatment strategy here –> Chiropractic Adjustments For SI Joint Pain
- Core activation and strengthening exercises. During pregnancy, you’re going to lose strength in your core muscles which include the transverse abdominis (abs) and gluteal muscles (but). Your chiropractor can progress you through a rehab exercise program that gets you using these muscles again, builds strength in them, and increases your muscular endurance.
- Acupuncture and dry needling. Acupuncture can help relieve SI joint pain after pregnancy and dry needling can address trigger points that are skewing normal motion and muscle balance of the pelvis. Read more about this treatment strategy in my content here –> Dry Needling For SI Joint Pain
Make sure you find a skilled healthcare professional who can pinpoint whether the SI joint is the cause of your pain. Lumbar spine issues can be similar and some sometimes mimic SI joint pain, so finding an expert who’s familiar in this area is important. Dr. Brianna Williams DC at our Cary NC office is experienced and passionate about treating pregnancy-related complaints including post-pregnancy SI Joint Pain.
Dr. Brianna Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. She treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, Graston Technique, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include pregnancy related conditions, back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating pregnant women, especially those who're exercising and want to stay moving during their pregnancy.
If you're interested in whether she or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.