Friday, June 15, 2012
Hyper-mobile SI joint
For about six months now, I've had pain in my right hip and lower back. Nothing major most of the time--just a dull ache and occasional sharper jab of pain. It hasn't kept me from doing anything; in fact, it feels best when I'm riding or working out. Sitting for long periods makes it flare, and the worst pain comes in the early morning if I go to roll over. Then I get some fairly severe pain that makes me groan and not want to move. Sometimes it keeps me awake at night, too, just aching and aching. But because it hasn't really kept me from enjoying life, I've mostly ignored it. I finally decided to see a doctor about it when it occurred to me that it hasn't gotten any better in six months. I didn't want it to get worse! And, I wondered if after all these years of riding, maybe I was developing some arthritis in my hip joint.
My doctor was unsure about the exact cause, so she sent me to see a physical therapist. After an hour of poking, prodding, twisting, turning, lifting, pulling, etc., she said I have a hyper-mobile sacroiliac joint on the right side. The ligaments that should limit the range of motion in that joint have gotten stretched out, so the joint can now wobble too much. She said it's likely a combination of years of riding, years of office work, and multiple falls from horses over two decades.
She gave me an SI belt to start wearing immediately to help stabilize the joint. It's just a non-stretchy wide belt I wear tight, a few inches below the points of my hips. She said to wear it as much as I can, even sleeping if I could stand it. I wore it all day yesterday, and wow! what a difference! With it on and the joint stabilized, I have almost no pain or ache. I wore it working out last night (elliptical and machines) and didn't have a single twinge, and no pain following the workout like I usually get. I also wore it to bed and had no pain at all. I'll try riding in it tomorrow. The PT also gave me an exercise to do to start strengthening the supporting muscles and ligaments in the area.
The PT said everything around the joint is in complete lockdown in an attempt to stabilize it. The SI joint on the left is also partially locked to compensate. A chiropractor and a massage therapist both discovered all those locked muscles and worked on them in the past six months, but the PT said while that wasn't wrong per se, it wasn't addressing the cause of the problem. It's so nice to get it figured out!
I thought I'd post this information because I know so many equestrians with varying degrees of back pain, and I have known others who, like me, say that their back feels best when they're on a horse. That can be a symptom of this condition. One other note--if the problem is indeed a hyper-mobile SI joint, a chiropractic adjustment of the joint may feel good, but it will loosen the joint more. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I don't even play one on TV.)
I had a fun lesson on Huey Wednesday. Camilla is competing him at an event next weekend, and she's been out of town, so I've been doing what I can to keep him jumping fit without actually jumping. Trainer Leslie had me working lots of collected canter as well as counter canter. He did really well!