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The SI Joint from Hell…

Have you ever had an injury that kept you on the sidelines from doing what you love? I have had this problem for the past month. A few days after completing my last bushwhacking trip (see the 2010 Birdathon posts), I came down with a searing pain in my lower back and buttocks. In actuality, I believe the affected area was my sacroiliac joint (SI joint, for short). It was so bad at one point that it took me an excruciatingly agonizing ten minutes to get up and go to the bathroom (I recommend NOT waiting until you have to run for the bathroom).

This is not the first time I have had problems with my SI joint. For years I had what I thought was sciatica. The pain would be located anywhere from my lower back down to my thigh, in either side but typically on only one side at a time. The intensity of pain ranges from a dull ache to something akin to having a bowie knife stuck into my butt and twisted (adding salt to the wound being optional). This problem has been present for about the past 20 years, with the pain being more intense and more frequent during the initial years. I have managed the pain by staying active, specifically by running (four to six days a week) and weight lifting (three to four days a week) on a regular basis. In the last year or so the pain has begun to radiate into my groin, which got me researching the issue again and led me to my current diagnosis of SI joint dysfunction.

I found a lot of information about SI joint dysfunction online including some awesome stretches of the joint, which seem to have been extremely helpful relieving the pain. Although the pain flares up irregularly, it is especially irritating when it erupts during the prime bushwhacking months of May to September. Unfortunately this current flare-up has left me sidelined with regards to hiking/backpacking/bushwhacking since mid-May. June is my favorite month for bushwhacking (the reasons for thinking so are best left to a future post) so it has been especially hard to watch the nice weather go by and not be out slogging through wetlands, struggling through dense spruce/fir, untangling from witchhopple and swatting copious hordes of biting insects.

Have you ever suffered from an injure preventing you from exploring the outdoors? Any suggestions on how to cope?

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2 comments on “The SI Joint from Hell…

  • I injured my back about 7 years ago. Happened in September, by December I couldn’t walk without a limp. Gradually got better through the spring, but I wasn’t up for much hiking that first summer. It bugged me off and on for years and I had to be really careful about lifting my pack and jumping down rocks, etc.
    The past year or so has been nearly pain-free. I started doing some work with a personal trainer over a year ago and have done a TON of core-strengthening work at the gym. It has made a huge difference. I’m also being careful to stretch regularly, especially after my weight work. Yoga is a big help when I have a flare-up and I incorporate yoga poses into my post-workout stretch.
    Oh, when the back pain was really bad, I liked to lie on the floor on my heating bad with a pillow under my knees. Ahhh!
    Good luck! Be patient with yourself!

  • bushwhackingfool

    July 6, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for the information, Gillian. I just recently got home from a 8-day trip and the SI joint did not really bother me (the other one did on one day but since I bushwhacked for 2 miles followed by 10+ miles of trail hiking on a single day if was not surprise that something ached). But after one night’s sleep my lower back hurt. When it rains it pours! It feels like an overuse issue so hopefully a few days of rest will cure it. I am going to look into yoga some and maybe increase my core-strengthening exercises.

    Have you ever tried TRX Suspension training? I recently read some information about it being excellent for core-strengthening.